Mike Minor followed Tim Hudson's example Tuesday with seven innings of superb work and an extra base hit of his own as the Atlanta Braves took the second game of their series with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Minor ran into a little trouble in the first inning, giving up a double to Corey Patterson and a two-out RBI single to Adam Lind, but the Braves lefty had little else to worry about en route to his first win of the year.
"Every hurdle he missed the last start – getting through the first inning, getting through that decision inning – he hit them all today," manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
After the first inning, Minor gave up only three more hits and a walk; he also struck out eight and lowered his ERA to 4.59 in the 5-1 win – his first of the year.
"It feels nice to finally get a win this year," Minor said. "But mostly I'm just trying to pitch for the team."
And his team gave up plenty of run support early.
Atlanta started the game with some old fashioned ABC baseball. Jordan Schafer led off with a walk, followed by a Jason Heyward single that moved Schafer to third. A finally healthy Chipper Jones then brought in Schafer with a sacrifice fly.
Brian McCann then blasted a two-run homer in the third inning after a single by Jones. After Freddi Freeman walked, Dan Uggla hit into a fielder's choice, but was driven in by a double by Alex Gonzalez, who was thrown at third trying to stretch it into a triple.
Minor then helped out his own cause with a double in the fourth inning. A single by Schafer moved him over, and another hit by Heyward drove him in.
The Braves chased Blue Jays starting pitcher Zach Stewart after only 3 2/3 innings after giving up 10 hits and five runs. Jones partially credits the three walks they drew for the offensive output.
"We were patient in some instances and we were aggressive in others," Jones said. "When we got run-scoring opportunities, we were aggressive. Leading off innings, we waited him out a little bit, especially there in the first couple innings."
After Minor's gem, Eric O'Flaherty and Jonny Venters threw perfect eighth and ninth innings to shut the door. Venters' ERA is now 0.58.
Minor was then sent down to triple-A Gwinnett to make room for Brandon Beachy, who is returning Wednesday from the disabled list. He injured an oblique May 13 while pitching against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Julio Lugo was called up before the game from Gwinnett in order to have a more veteran backup for Alex Gonzalez. Diory Hernandez was optioned down to make room for him.
An eight-run ninth inning in St. Louis powered the Philadelphia Phillies past the Cardinals Tuesday, keeping them 4.5 games ahead of Atlanta in the division race.
Beachy's counterpart for Toronto will be former Brave Jo-Jo Reyes (3-5, 4.18 ERA). Reyes has won three of his last four decisions after tying the major league record of 28 straight winless starts.
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