The Atlanta Braves finally gave Mike Minor, albeit two of the runs were scored by himself. After going four starts with exactly no run support, Minor put together a quality start with more than enough for the 7-3 win against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on Saturday.
Minor drew a lead-off walk in the third inning off Madison Bumgarner. Three batters later, Jason Heyward blasted a three-run homer, his 23rd of the season. Minor also hit a crucial double in the seventh and was plated by Michael Bourn on a single to stave off the Giants rally in the bottom of the seventh.
"We had a lot of runs today and good at-bats and good defense," Minor said. "Everything just started clicking. Hopefully we can keep it going."
Minor exited after 6 2/3 innings, but not before he left runners on second and third in the inning. Chad Durbin gave up a double to Gregor Blanco to bring Minor's line to three runs.
As opposed to folding under the pressure of losing six of their last seven, the Braves were instead patient at the plate as Bourn and Martin Prado both drew bases loaded walks off Jeremy Affeldt in the eighth.
The Braves had hit .197 over that seven-game stretch entering Saturday. Paired with Bumgarner's 1.93 ERA over his last eight starts, the Braves didn't have much reason to be optimistic about their chances. Heyward's homer, however, gave him five home runs in 34 career at-bats at AT&T Park.
"The crowd always keeps you on your toes here," Heyward said. "It's a good environment to play in. They're out there every night. It's a good team. They've got good pitchers. You've got to go up there focusing during every at-bat."
Minor gave up one hit through his first four innings. In the fifth, after Joaquin Arias hit a double to put runners at second and third, but he held them to one run on a groundout by Belt. Fredi Gonzalez was pretty blunt about what the outcome would have been earlier in the year, when he carried a 6.20 ERA out of June.
"Earlier on [in the season], that becomes a three-run homer," Gonzalez said. "Today he minimized the damage and knew what he was doing. It's definitely nice to see him get through those innings."
The Washington Nationals lost their third straight game Saturday to allow Atlanta to climb within 5.5 games of the NL East. The St. Louis Cardinals also lost to put them 2.5 games out of the top Wild Card spot, allowing the Braves to breathe easier.
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