The first four starts Mike Minor made in 2012 were more than enough reason to give him the confidence to be in the Atlanta Braves starting rotation. Monday's finale against the Pittsburgh Pirates, however, saw Minor get rocked in a 9-3 loss.
Minor allowed a career high seven runs in a breakout night for a struggling Pirates offense. He struggled with his command while giving up a pair of homers to Pedro Alvarez and Yamaico Navarro in his 6 1/3 innings.
No one exactly expected the Pirates, who had previously maxed out their production at five runs, to score a season high nine runs, especially considering that Minor had only allowed four earned runs over his previous 21 1/3 innings.
It seemed the Pirates would put up another lowly number in the run column when Minor threw a perfect first inning and got out of a jam in the second inning with runners on the corners and no outs. He ran into trouble in the third inning when he walked Rod Barajas to start. That led to two runs in an inning that Jose Tabata doubled and Josh Harrison hit a flare into right for an RBI-single.
With a runner on in the fourth, Alvarez jumped on a first pitch fastball for a two-run homer, just the second Minor has surrendered to a left-handed batter in his career.
Eric Hinske provided an RBI-single in the fourth inning, one of his four hits on the night while filling in for a sore Jason Heyward.
The Braves went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left seven on base, showing no lack of opportunity. When they seemed poised in the seventh inning to cut the lead after Hinske led off with a double, McDonald struck out Tyler Pastornicky, Juan Francisco and Michael Bourn in order to end the inning.
The Philadelphia Phillies come to town for a three-game series starting Tuesday at 7:10.
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