Braves hit four homers in 7-3 win over Cubs

After falling behind early in far too many games during their long, scorching hot and largely disappointing homestand, the Braves and pitcher Mike Minor got something Thursday that felt even better than cool rain might have. They got a pair of two-run homers in the first inning.

Jason Heyward and Brian McCann each homered in the four-run first inning, Mike Minor didn’t allow a hit until the fifth, and the Braves cruised to a 7-3 win against the Cubs to salvage splits of their four-game series and 10-game hometand.

“I like the way we scored runs at the beginning of the game and put pressure on,” said manager Fredi Gonzalez, whose third-place Braves remained six games behind NL East leader Washington, with only a three-game series at Philadelphia remaining before the All-Star break. “Mikey went out there and shut ‘em down. He got better as the game went on. Real good outing on his part.”

Minor (5-6) completely outpitched Chicago’s Matt Garza, the veteran right-hander who has been one of the trade-bait pitchers some have speculated could eventually replace Minor or rookie Randall Delgado in the Braves rotation. The way he looked Thursday, it’s hard to imagine the Braves putting him near the top of their list of potential trade targets.

Garza (4-7) allowed five runs and three homers in four innings and threw 44 pitches in the first, including 16 to Juan Francisco. Freddie Freeman added a third-inning homer and Francisco homered in the eighth for the Braves, who won for just the third time in eight games.

“Yeah, we came out and had some good ABs early and basically the whole game,” McCann said. “It was great to give [Minor] a lead and give us a lead.”

Minor was just 2-5 with a 7.43 ERA in his past 11 starts before Thursday, when he worked 6-1/3 innings and was charged with three hits, three runs (two earned) and two walks with six strikeouts. Two runs scored after reliever Kris Medlen entered the game.

The big lead in the first inning made his job easier, Minor said.

“I just tried to throw strikes,” he said. “There for a while I was trying to over-throw and I kept going 2-0, 3-0. It wasn’t because I was trying to nip around the corners or anything, obviously, with a 4-nothing lead. It was more just trying to go after hitters, and I think I was over-throwing.”

A few times when he got behind hitters, Minor took a deep breath, gathered himself behind the mound, then threw strikes to his catcher McCann.

“This is a confidence builder [for Minor],” McCann said. “He made his pitches when he needed to. He had a no-hitter going to the fifth. He pitched well.”

Garza did not. He piled up 94 pitches in four innings including 28 in two plate appearances by Francisco, who fouled off a total of 17 pitches against the right-hander. Francisco filled in at third base for Chipper Jones, who was out of the lineup for a rest.

“How ‘bout the at-bat that Francisco gave Garza in that [first] inning?” Gonzalez said. “I don’t think he ever recovered from that. I think he ended up throwing 80, 90 pitches in four innings. And then he [Francisco] did it again his second at-bat. And hit a home run there at the end to cap it off. That’s good to see.”

It could be one of Minor’s last two starts  before newcomer Ben Sheets joins the Braves rotation soon after the All-Star break. Sheets signed with the Braves last week and made his first minor league start Wednesday, and he’s likely to replace Minor or Delgado.

Gonzalez said before the game that he didn’t see it as a make-or-break start for Minor, but the left-hander pitched as if his spot depended on it. He didn’t give up a hit until Geovany Soto’s one-out homer in the fifth, and the Cubs didn’t have another runner reach second base until the seventh.

After Minor allowed a single and walk to start the seventh, Gonzalez left him in to face All-Star Bryan LaHair. Minor struck him out.

“For him to get LeHair out there was a big turning point for him,” Gonzalez said. “I think this is his second outing that’s pretty decent for him. He goes into the All-Star break feeling pretty good about himself, and maybe come out the other side with some momentum.”

Gonzalez then brought in Medlen, who gave up a two-out single to Reed Johnson that scored two runs, one unearned on Heyward’s throwing error.

Minor improved to 4-0 with a 4.30 ERA in four career starts against Cubs. The Braves have scored 28 runs while he’s been in those four games against Chicago, including the 2010 game when he set an Atlanta rookie record with 12 strikeouts.

Garza’s ERA climbed to 4.28 in 16 starts, including 5.67 in 10 road starts. With two rows of scouts seated behind home plate pointing radar guns at Garza, he got torched for five runs, five hits and three walks in four innings, with Freddie Freeman’s solo homer in the third pushing the lead to 5-0.

If you had never seen them pitch before Thursday and someone said the Braves might prefer to have Garza over Minor, you might think that person was dizzy from the heat.

Garza is 1-5 with a 6.57 ERA in his past seven road starts, with 12 homers allowed in in 37 innings. He’s allowed one home run in six home starts at Wrigley Field, but given up a whopping 14 homers in 10 road starts.

No, if a starting pitcher impressed any scouts on Thursday, it was probably Minor.

61 comments Add your comment

Mack

July 5th, 2012
10:13 pm

They looked good tonight.

Brave Decisions

July 5th, 2012
10:14 pm

Great game, good performance by the offense. Solid outing by Minor.

http://wp.me/p2lqJ1-9A posted this earlier about Greinke, let me know what you think!

gcs

July 5th, 2012
10:14 pm

DOB, who do you think takes over third next year?
Francisco, Prado, Pastornicky (moved), other?

OTP

July 5th, 2012
10:23 pm

Can we go ahead and send Uggla to KC to rest and get ready for the ASG? He is doing his team no good here.

Brave New World

July 5th, 2012
10:26 pm

Let’s pass on Garza. I like Minor better. GO BRAVES!

venters-sinker

July 5th, 2012
10:32 pm

I wonder if that loud mouth Cap Tipper will post tonight. Never seen a more ignorant fan of baseball in my life. Would be great to Grienke, but if we don’t sign Bourn then whats the point. That guy does everything for this team.

technut

July 5th, 2012
10:35 pm

@gcs: I’d say Juan…foul off 17 pitches in two at bats? He’s a hitter; he’s looking for that one ball to hit; if you can control your at bats by fouling them off, you got a great eye for the ball.

tjhook

July 5th, 2012
10:35 pm

Jason Heyward is getting busy with that bat, man! I’m very interested to see how he does versus Philadelphia, a team known to bring emotion to any ball game. Their attitude is what I feel has been their advantage versus the Bravos. Atlanta just seems to focus on staying cool almost all of the time. I hope they get a little rowdy if the Phillies try to make us tip our hat tomorrow.

Harpie

July 5th, 2012
10:37 pm

Yippee, a split with the worst team in baseball! Way to go, Cubs…

Hi it's me Coach Freddie

July 5th, 2012
10:42 pm

I still don’t know why people voted for Uggla to be a All Star?

Wolf

July 5th, 2012
10:57 pm

Mr. O?Brien, I am wondering what starting All-Star position player in the history of the game had the lowest batting average. Dan Uggla is in the .220’s, and, as a 60-year baseball fan, I cannot recall an All-Star non-pitcher with a batting average that low. Are such statistics maintained for the All-Star game? Usually, I am pleased when a Brave is seelcted for the All-Star game, but seeing Uggla there is somewhat embarrassing. This guy is NOT the best 2nd baseman in the NL, not even CLOSE,

NatFanNatl

July 5th, 2012
11:17 pm

Go Braves! Nice to see Heyward happy and hitting! As long as they don’t catch Nationals….I wish them success!

NatFanNatl

July 5th, 2012
11:21 pm

Bourn is an All Star and Braves MVP

drew

July 5th, 2012
11:23 pm

Braves will now proceed to lose 2/3 of their remaining games after the All Star break…
same old, same old…

bostonbravo

July 5th, 2012
11:24 pm

WTG Brian!!
Juan Fatsico…you need go back home..wherever…NOT a big picture player.

Uggla…OUR ALL STAR!…sums up Braves season (again) doesn’t he??

P Rose

July 5th, 2012
11:28 pm

Glad they won. There’s nothing worse than losing to the Cubs at home.

bostonbravo

July 5th, 2012
11:28 pm

WOLF..my thoughts exactly…He is (BY FAR) the worst player on the team!! If HE is all star…??? You got me started.

You couldn’t even TRADE the arrogant little blimp for anything. Good lord I hate the sob.

alex

July 5th, 2012
11:37 pm

any win, even against the lowly cubbies is cause for celebration!….
as for Uggla, people around the braves say he is obsessed with weight lifting, perhaps this is hurting his hitting and fw and fg should moderate this activity. Perhaps Uggla will claim an injury and remove himself from the game!

Laughing out Loud

July 6th, 2012
12:04 am

All you Uggla haters will eat your words before the season is over. Nice win tonight. Now go get the Phillies!

cowdogit

July 6th, 2012
12:04 am

Chipper and his friends have created a horrible killing field for some of Americas most beautiful animals. Cruelty to these helpless animals is disgusting. The animal lovers that worship at Chippers feet are nothing more than low life ignorant hypocrites.

Bvillebaron

July 6th, 2012
12:06 am

Good win tonight. I think they should try to get Greinke IF they can sign him to a new contract. He only turns 29 in October and is the type of ace who could anchor this staff for the next 5 years. This would not be a rental under those circumstances. Besides this team could use a jump start and I think Greinke could do just that. Do any of you remember the boost McGriff gave this team a few years back?

DOB Needs To Ask Tough Questions!

July 6th, 2012
12:55 am

What’s weird is that when we win, teams dont tip their caps at us.
Well, anyway, you have to tip your cap to Garza here, folks. This was a pretty obvious attempt to make sure fans who wanted to trade for him jump off the wagon.
It’s a pretty good strategy and you have to tip your cap to him.

NickB

July 6th, 2012
1:05 am

cowdogit

best thing about animals? they are delicious!!!

wayn-o

July 6th, 2012
1:13 am

No, Chipper loves his greens & veggies. That’s why he hunts down those viscous leaf eaters to protect mother earth.

David the Shepherd

July 6th, 2012
3:17 am

“I wonder if that loud mouth Cap Tipper will post tonight. Never seen a more ignorant fan of baseball in my life. Would be great to Grienke, but if we don’t sign Bourn then whats the point. That guy does everything for this team.”–venters-sinker

Really dude, if you’re gonna call someone ignorant, get your subject-verb agreement to coincide…unless you’re gonna start using “Grienke” as a verb. Also “what’s” the point (apostrophe)?

Kotex

July 6th, 2012
6:07 am

I can clean up the mess that is called…. the Braves.

Buzz 2011

July 6th, 2012
6:09 am

Uggla another all star like performance with 0 for three night. Hw many balls did
he kick in the field? All star material

Kotex

July 6th, 2012
6:09 am

Just kidding….Braves just dont have a back the end rotation or a bench to compete for a Championship. The one chance they have is if Uggla has a second half like last year. All you fans remember that he carried the Braves after his horrid start?

bob

July 6th, 2012
6:34 am

Why is FG using Kimbrel in a game where the Braves have a 4 run lead? I suppose FG and RMcD are not satisfied with blowing out the arms of Beachy and Venters, now their focus is on Kimbrel.

Let’s wait and see how Kimbrel pitches in September. Remember last year when Kimbrel and Venters could not even raise their arms to shave.

This is simply crazy. FG and RMcD will ruin every arm in the organization.

Bill M.

July 6th, 2012
6:44 am

Lets not get ahead of ourselves. This was a good game but you can’t play 500 at home and expect to advance in standings. The Nats are not going away. This week-end series with Phillies may make or break. The Braves have to sweep or win 2 of 3.

phil

July 6th, 2012
7:15 am

cowdogit
July 6th, 2012
12:04 am

Chipper and his friends have created a horrible killing field for some of Americas most beautiful animals. Cruelty to these helpless animals is disgusting. The animal lovers that worship at Chippers feet are nothing more than low life ignorant hypocrites.

************
and you are apparently just one of the low life ignorant in general.

Where does a post like this even come from? Manure for your brains?

phil

July 6th, 2012
7:19 am

Well, we won a game, but just like many here say that a loss doesn’t matter because we’re assured of losing 70 anyway, same is true of winning.

So who gives a crap that we won! Meaningless waste of energy! :roll:

Ackshun

July 6th, 2012
7:25 am

It’s all about winning the world series and if we can’t beat the Nationals in our own building, with first place on the line, how are we going to do that?

B

July 6th, 2012
7:34 am

I must say, I’ve never really agreed with all the people who say Fredi is a moron, but I don’t understand using Medlen last night when he did. Medlen is a good pitcher when he can start an inning with nobody on. he allows 90% of inherited runners to score. granted it was a 6-1 game when he came in, but it was 6-1 with 2 men on and LaHare at the plate when the only person in the pen warming up was Medlen… we get LaHare out, and what does Medlen do, he allows the 2 inherited runners to score and now it’s 6-3… I’m still not going to say Fredi should be fired, but, that just bothered me last night.

Greene Hornet

July 6th, 2012
7:34 am

Ackshun, unfortunately if we don’t start playing better consistently we won’t have to worry how we play against the Nationals. That’s because we won’t be in the playoff hunt anyway. Let’s play better first….

Carl Farvman

July 6th, 2012
7:40 am

“DOB, who do you think takes over third next year?
Francisco, Prado, Pastornicky (moved), other?”

Probably Kenny Reitz.

phil

July 6th, 2012
7:58 am

Fire someone!!

blackdog

July 6th, 2012
8:01 am

Uggla is terrible. No way to sugar coat it!!!

Braves Fan All Day Everyday

July 6th, 2012
8:07 am

Cowdogit…… I think you posted your comments on the wrong article!!!

Go Braves!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DawgInaTruck

July 6th, 2012
8:17 am

Well played Carl. There is a name I haven’t seen in a while. I wonder how many people even know who that is without using Google, etc. Come to think of it, I’m sure Rod Gilbreath, Pat Rockett and Sonny Jackson are available too.

4daBraves

July 6th, 2012
8:25 am

Glad to see the win. This team is still disappointingly mediocre. A terrible home record even further hurts home attendance. It’s mid season guys, and every game counts. Wake up and string some wins together.

Boone7

July 6th, 2012
8:30 am

All, I was looking at the Detroit Free Press and came across an article “4 Detroit trades that shouldn’t have happened” – #3 on the list, of course:
3
John Smoltz

The Tigers got Doyle Alexander from the Braves in 1987 for the pitcher from Lansing Waverly. Alexander won 29 games in three seasons, but Smoltz went on to be an NLCS MVP and Cy Young Award winner.

Be careful about giving away strong early 20s arms. You never know what they can become – the next Glavine, Smoltz, Maddux, or JoJo Reyes…

Coach Joe

July 6th, 2012
8:38 am

Uggla is way too streaky to pay $15,000,000.00 a year.. These long zillion dollar contratcs never work out. I love Bourn and wish we could keep him, but not at 15-20 million a year…unless we can dump Uggla’s contract. $50 million for five years is all that i would offer…..lot of good young players we have.. wouldn’t offer McCann all, those millions either, alhough he is the heart of the team after Chippper leaves… Decisions Decisions..

Freddie G

July 6th, 2012
9:41 am

That’s 2 quality starts for Minor in his last 13- I told you he’d come thru! I’ll tip my cap to him! With Venters on the DL, I’d like to get hold of Scott Proctor, and run him out there to be Kimbrells new set up man.

Bobby C

July 6th, 2012
9:46 am

I saw someone mentioned Jo Jo Reyes- I remember him. I used to keep running him out there despite an ERA over 7- just like Minor. Let that be a lesson to you Minor haters- see how good Jo Jo became? He set a record for most consecutive losses by a starting pitcher. I wish Freddie had Jo Jo, so he could run him out there!

F. WREN + Freddie G. = Loosing

July 6th, 2012
10:08 am

quit pulling down my posts. I have a right to my opinion. DOB I thought writers were all about freedom of speech. If I come back and see my post removed. I am only coming out harder swinging at you DOB and the AJC. So quit being Lame.

Freddie is awful, Wren is equally bad. If I was as bad at my job as they are at theirs, I would have been kicked to the curb by now.

All you dreamers, realize we have no chance at Bourn, once AL clubs get involved we will have no chance. Also the last Scott Boris client we tried to make a deal for was Mark Teixeira, how’d that work out ? Bottom line is M. Bourn is getting top dollar, and we are a cheap Franchise. Being real, the Nationals have a better chance at Bourn, they at least have money to spend and a great owner. Liberty is killing the team, and a writer like DOB not pointing out flaws in their ownership is part of the problem, they got you on pay roll too DOB ?

Vesaversa

July 6th, 2012
10:15 am

Second half of the Baseball season will get better for the Braves ,so i’m sticking with them .

Rafael Ramirez

July 6th, 2012
10:35 am

Sad to say, but Bourn will be leaving after this year. He’s our best leadoff hitter since…., maybe ever. With Chippers retirement, Hudson aging, and keeping Bobbys boy as manager- next year will be rough. Remember Chuck Tanners teams here?

Bernie

July 6th, 2012
10:55 am

don’t think because of last night their hitting is back. Remember they split with the Cubs

Freddie G

July 6th, 2012
11:00 am

If we can take one out of three against Philly, that will be OK with me- don’t you agree Mark Bradley? I’ll be more than happy to tip my cap to the Phillies.

Freddie G

July 6th, 2012
11:00 am

If we can take one out of three against Philly, that will be OK with me- don’t you agree Mark Bradley? I’ll be more than happy to tip my cap to the Phillies.

BrandonLee49

July 6th, 2012
11:00 am

Absolutely a great outing by Minor, Forget Sheets, Forget Garza, We’re Tipping our Hats to Garza for Clearing up that idiotic Pursuit…
Of Course Now They’ll probably be knocking down the dooor to Dempster-the-Dumpster another player lost in sub-par performances… Let’s be Thankful we Still have Mike Minor… Now Let’s carry some Mojo over for the Phillies our arch nemesis.

Skokie Dog

July 6th, 2012
11:55 am

I have to tip my cap to El Gordo, er, Francisco, for those long at-bats last night. Did anyone notice the Braves dugout while he was at bat? I would have thought the other players were asking Fredi why Francisco didn’t just hack at a low-and-away curveball for strike three and coming back into the dugout and out of the heat. Problem is, I don’t think Fredi could have answered that question.

Brave New World

July 6th, 2012
12:04 pm

cowdogit July 6th, 2012 12:04 am
Chipper and his friends have created a horrible killing field for some of Americas most beautiful animals.

The AJC has created a horrible killing field for the English language with these Brave blogs.

BrandonLee49

July 6th, 2012
12:21 pm

Brave Decisions; excellent information on Grenieke.. He id definitely a Top5 Pitcher compared against the Best on both Leagues, but the Price is a Premium Price Tag… in a Trade Milwaukeee will demand a comperable package of youth as they are giving up a Premium Pitcher in his Prime… 28- 35 yr range… It Would be an Excellent Investment, even with Jones’ Contract expiring at the end of 2012… Seeing as The Braves are Going Nowhere in the Playoff’s This Year, He Should go ahead and alleviate the Braves of his Contract…. Free-Up Negotiations Before the Real HIGH DOLLAR Teams Snatch up Zack as his Price escalates in Free Agency….

Roger Mc

July 6th, 2012
12:36 pm

Forget Grienke, I want Livan and Proctor back! Freddie already told me he’s more than glad to “run them out there”, Seriously, the Braves have lost ONE game this year when they’ve scored 5+ runs- the best record in MLB. That tells me pitching (while average at best) is not the problem. Stupid and stubborn approaches to hitting by certain players are killing our season. Where is Larry Parrish when we need him!? Obviously, he was not the problem.

cdog

July 6th, 2012
1:07 pm

the braves are losers with a capital “L”. MARTIN PRADO AND MICHAEL BOURNE WONDER WHY THEY ARE NOT ON THE ALLSTAR TEAM, VERY SIMPLE, THEY ONLY HIT WHEN THE GAME HAS BEEN DECIDED ONE WAY OR ANOTHER. THIS IS TRUE FOR ALL OF THE BRAVES HITTERS. CURVE BALLS ARE A MYSTERY TO HIT. SHOULD BE THE EASIEST THERE IS TO HIT.EVERY HITTER IS TRYING TO KILL THE BALL WHICH RESULTS IN FOULS AND OUTS. WHEN I SEE ERIC HINSKI IN THE GAME, I KNOW IT”S A LOST FOR THE CLUB. HE’S TERRIBLE BUT THE TOP LOSER IS FREDDY GONZALEZ. UNTIL HE”S GONE, THE BRAVES WILL ALWAYS BE LOSERS.

Mitchell

July 6th, 2012
1:09 pm

They got a pair of two-run homers in the first inning.

Jason Heyward and Brian McCann each homered in the four-run first inning

That’s nice.

We lost 5-1 Wednesday and went down in order in the bottom of the 9th against Carlos Marmol and then proceeded to drive in four runs in the first inning of the next day’s game.

Way to be clutch there, Braves.

Mitchell

July 6th, 2012
1:16 pm

THEY ONLY HIT WHEN THE GAME HAS BEEN DECIDED ONE WAY OR ANOTHER. THIS IS TRUE FOR ALL OF THE BRAVES HITTERS.

That’s it right there.

That’s the Braves in a nutshell.

On the rare occasion they actually have a good night, they score a few runs, get some good pitching they have the appearance of a real baseball team, players who earn the right to be called professional athletes.

When you find things aren’t going their way they look like a bunch of faintly screaming children on a school bus that’s dangling over the side of a bridge waiting for someone to save them.

Okay, that’s a little cartoonish but you get the idea.

Hate Fredi

July 6th, 2012
1:21 pm

I don’t care if Uggla does get hot later in the year he is not an all star. And when he does finally get hot, for how long? Big money ball players need to deliver when the game is on the line, Uggla is not that kind of player- He and Fredi need to go!

mike

July 6th, 2012
3:36 pm

face it, uggla is terrible. once again, tonight, he whiffed three times and his swings weren’t even close. send him down and bring someone else up that wants to play, likes to play, AND can hit the ball. the Braves got taken to the cleaners when they got him. all that money for ZERO production. this is why major league ballplayers should not be given a contract until after the season. pay them a stipend during the season for expenses and then negotiate a final contract based on their productivity. this has merit which is why no one would ever accept it.

Add your comment