ATLANTA -- For the first time this season, the Braves won a game on the strength of their starting pitching.
Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez suggested it won't be the last time Mike Minor dominates a game.Minor pitched two-hit ball into the eighth inning to give Atlanta's rotation a lift and the Braves survived a ninth-inning scare to beat Shaun Marcum and the Milwaukee Brewers 2-1 on Saturday night for their fourth straight victory."He keeps getting better and better," said Gonzalez of Minor. "I can't wait to see the next start."Craig Kimbrel pitched out of a bases-loaded jam with one out in the ninth, striking out pinch-hitter George Kottaras and Mat Gamel for his fourth save.Minor (1-1) recorded 18 consecutive outs after hitting Corey Hart with a pitch to open the second inning. The left-hander did not allow an earned run in 7 1/3 innings, becoming the first Braves starter this season to get an out after the fifth. He struck out four and walked one in the longest start of his career."It was a lot of fun just because I got past the fifth inning and helped the team out, helped the bullpen out," Minor said.The Braves have won four straight after losing their first four games. Milwaukee has lost three straight.Juan Francisco had a run-scoring double in the Braves' two-run second inning.With one out in the ninth, Kimbrel walked Ryan Braun, who moved to second on a single by Aramis Ramirez. Hart walked to load the bases."It seems like once he got the bases loaded, he bore down and made some great pitches," said catcher Brian McCann of Kimbrel, who struck out Kottaras on a called third strike before Gamel went down swinging."He can throw it by you, like he did the last pitch, and he's got the real nice, hard slider," said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke.Marcum (1-1) gave up only three hits and two runs in seven innings. He was hurt by Braun's throwing error in the second."It was a fun game," Marcum said. "Anytime they're close like that, a hit here and there can win the game for you. Those are fun games to be a part of."Jonny Venters replaced Minor, who left with a 2-0 lead after Jonathan Lucroy hit a one-out double in the eighth. Gamel hit a bloop single off the glove of a diving Jason Heyward in right field as Lucroy advanced to third. Cesar Izturis then hit a grounder to Venters, who threw out Lucroy at the plate.Pinch-hitter Norichika Aoki followed with an infield single to second baseman Dan Uggla, who threw wildly to first base for an error that allowed Gamel to score from second, cutting Atlanta's lead to 2-1. Venters struck out Rickie Weeks to end the inning.Minor, 24, had a shaky start when Weeks walked to lead off the game and moved to second on a single by Carlos Gomez. Minor struck out Braun and ended the inning when Ramirez hit into a double play.Gonzalez said Minor's recovery is a sign of the progress he has made since his 2011 rookie season, when he was 5-3 in 15 starts."That's the sign of a guy maturing, a guy that's getting comfortable in the major leagues," Gonzalez said of Minor, who was the Braves' first-round pick out of Vanderbilt in the 2009 draft.Minor said he struggled with his control early. McCann had a different view."He hit his spots all night long with every pitch he had," McCann said. "He continues to get better. This guy, you don't know where his ceiling is at."McCann led off the second inning with a walk. With Milwaukee's infield in a shift that placed shortstop Izturis near second base, the left-handed hitting Heyward punched a slow grounder through the middle of the left side of the infield. As Braun ran in from left field to grab the grounder, McCann hustled toward third and scored when Braun's throw bounced past Ramirez at third base."That's how you beat it," said Heyward of the defensive shift. "I was trying to hit it that way. It just worked out."Heyward moved to third on Braun's throwing error and scored when Francisco doubled to right-center.Francisco started for Chipper Jones, who was held out for the second straight game after having his surgically repaired left knee drained on Friday. Jones said he hopes to start on Sunday.
The Braves unveiled their throwback uniforms from the start of their Atlanta era in 1966. They will wear the cream-tinted uniforms for home weekend games. Their caps -- blue with a red bill and white "A" -- have not changed. ... Izturis started for Alex Gonzalez, who was placed on paternity leave as he returned to Florida for the birth of his third child. INF Eric Farris was recalled from Triple-A Nashville. Gonzalez is expected to rejoin the team Tuesday in Milwaukee, following an off day on Monday. ... Minor lasted seven innings against Toronto on June 21, 2011, in his previous longest start.