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Braves baffled by Toronto's pitching
Atlanta Braves’ Kelly Johnson makes the throw to first for the double play on Toronto Blue Jays’ John McDonald on a hit from David Eckstein during third inning Sunday in Toronto. - photo by The Associated Press

TORONTO With his curveball diving and his fastball topping out at 96 miles per hour, A.J. Burnett made life easy on catcher Rod Barajas, and rough on the undermanned Atlanta Braves.

Burnett pitched seven shutout innings, Alex Rios drove in the only run of the game and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Braves 1-0 on Sunday.

"Today was one of those days when, where I put something down, I pretty much knew it was going to be a nasty pitch," Barajas said. "Those games are the best ones to catch. You can sit back there and know your pitcher is feeling it that day. He’s in the zone and whatever you call, you know it’s going to be a good pitch."

Burnett said the curve was the best weapon in his arsenal.

"It was really, really good today," Burnett said. "Most of the time it is, but I didn’t have to bounce many of them, it was getting to home plate and then diving."

Burnett (8-7) struck out a season-high 11 and walked four — one intentional — while allowing four hits. His 119 pitches were also a season-high.

Scott Downs worked the eighth, extending his scoreless innings streak to 26, the longest current streak in baseball. B.J. Ryan struck out the first two batters he faced in the ninth before Brandon Jones ended it with a fly out to deep left. Ryan picked up his 16th save in 18 opportunities.

"They’ve got golden-plated pitchers over there," Braves manager Bobby Cox said of the Blue Jays. "Their bullpen is outstanding and they’ve got all good starters."

Rios went 2-for-4 with two doubles and is batting .387 (24-for-62) with nine doubles in his past 17 games.

The Braves have lost a major league record 23 consecutive one-run road games, a streak that began last season.

Atlanta played without third-baseman Chipper Jones (right quad) and infielders Yunel Escobar (shoulder) and Omar Infante (hamstring). The Braves are 4-12 this season when Jones does not start.

Cox said Escobar and outfielder Mark Kotsay (back) could return in time for Tuesday’s game against Philadelphia, but Jones is likely to miss more time and could be headed for the disabled list.

"I don’t think Chipper is close to playing," Cox said.

Cox refused to blame injuries for the defeat.

"I don’t care who was in the lineup today, Burnett was tough," Cox said.

Catcher Brian McCann said the Braves will need Jones’s bat to keep their playoff hopes alive.

"Injuries have hurt us," McCann said. "You take Chipper out of any lineup and it’s going to be different. We need him to get healthy for this push."

The Blue Jays, who took two of three from Cincinnati before the Braves arrived, won back-to-back home series for the first time in 2008.

"It’s nice to get on a roll at home and play the way we should be playing," Barajas said. "We should be winning series at home. We need to have that confidence, that feeling that when a team comes into our house, they’re going to be lucky if they take one. Right now, we’re playing that way."

Burnett won for the third time in four starts. The right-hander has allowed just three earned run in his past 20 innings at Rogers Centre since being booed off the mound after allowing eight runs in 4 1-3 innings a 9-5 loss to Baltimore on June 7.

Burnett walked Kelly Johnson and Mark Teixeira to begin the fourth but got McCann to fly out and escaped when Greg Norton grounded into a 1-6-3 double play.

Norton opened the Atlanta seventh with a double and went to third one out later on a wild pitch, but Burnett ended his afternoon by fanning Jones and Brent Lillibridge.

McCann batted three times with runners in scoring position, but finished 0-for-4.

"I felt like every time I came up I had a chance to put some runs on the board and I didn’t get the job done all three times," he said.

The Blue Jays went 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position but got the only run they needed in the sixth against left-hander Jo-Jo Reyes (3-6).

Marco Scutaro hit a one-out single and scored when Rios followed with a double down the line in left. With McCann blocking the plate, Scutaro slid in just ahead of the relay throw from Lillibridge.

"The pitch that Rios hit, I wanted to try something new," said Reyes, who chose to throw a slider inside rather than away. "We tried it and it didn’t work."

Reyes allowed one run and six hits in seven innings. He has won just two of his past 10 starts.

"I pitched a good game but Burnett pitched a better game," Reyes said.Notes: Burnett has 19 career games with 10 or more strikeouts. ... Barajas threw out Gregor Blanco on an attempted steal of second in the third. It was the first time this season Blanco has been caught stealing. Barajas has caught 10 of 24 would-be base-stealers this season. ... With Blue Jays 2B Aaron Hill (concussion) still sidelined, INF David Eckstein has started taking grounders at second base. Eckstein, who was the DH Sunday, has made 49 starts at SS this season.

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