By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Sloppy play dooms Braves in 10-4 loss
Placeholder Image

HOUSTON — In his major league debut, Atlanta's Mike Minor was the victim of some minor league defense.

The left-hander allowed five hits and three earned runs in six innings, but Atlanta's three errors and a wild pitch helped the Astros snap a four-game losing streak and top the Braves 10-4 on Monday night.

The 22-year-old, who was the seventh overall pick in the 2009 draft, was starting in place of Kris Medlen, who is on the disabled list with a right elbow injury.

"Mike pitched a nice ball game, he really did," Cox said. "I don't think he was nervous ... he had great mound presence, and he made some pitches when he had to."

Chris Johnson, the Astros' hot-hitting rookie drove in three runs, including two in Houston's six-run seventh inning, and the Astros took advantage of sloppy play by the Braves.

The Astros were up by two when they added a pair of runs on the single to left field by Johnson, who is hitting .356, before clearing the bases on an error by Brian McCann on the same play. His throw to third base was high and late and rolled into the corner of left field, allowing Carlos Lee and Johnson to score.

"It's definitely a good situation on our team when we can get guys on base for (Johnson)," Jeff Keppinger said. "He's been coming through big for us. Once again he comes through with another big hit."

Jason Heyward, who turned 21 on Monday, hit his 12th home run of the season to the bullpen in right center field. He became the fourth player to homer on his 21st birthday, joining Ted Williams (1939), Frank Robinson (1956) and Alex Rodriguez (1996) according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Keppinger's RBI-single scored pinch runner Jason Bourgeois in the seventh inning and gave Houston a 5-4 lead. That score was helped by an error by pitcher Kyle Farnsworth (3-1) on a bad pickoff attempt that allowed Bourgeois to take second.

A wild pitch by Farnsworth advanced Keppinger to second and Angel Sanchez to third before he intentionally walked Hunter Pence to load the bases.

Farnsworth said he just felt like things began to snowball in the seventh inning.

"There's not really a whole lot you can do about it," he said. "You just have to keep your head up and keep going."
Farnsworth was replaced by Peter Moylan, who allowed an RBI single to Lee that stretched the lead to 6-4.

"We gave up a ton of bloopers in the seventh inning that hurt," Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said. "We caught all the line drives they ever hit, but we couldn't catch the bloopers."

Houston's Tim Byrdak (2-1) got one out to earn the win.

Houston tied it at 4-all in the sixth inning on an error by Alex Gonzalez when he couldn't handle a grounder by Johnson, allowing Pence to score. Pence walked before stealing second base and advancing to third on a groundout by Lee.

McCann belted a two-run homer in the sixth inning to put Atlanta back on top, 4-3. Chipper Jones doubled down the right field line before McCann's 16th home run of the season.

Minor allowed a leadoff single to Michael Bourn in the first inning before retiring nine of the next 10 batters. Keppinger doubled in the fourth inning before Lee's one-out ground rule double got Houston within 3-1. Lee's hit down the right field line landed just in front of three Braves and bounced into the stands.

Johnson's single to shallow center field sent Lee home and left the score at 3-2.

Rookie Brett Wallace followed with a double that landed in the corner of right field and put Houston on top 3-2. Minor struck out Jason Castro and Astros starter Bud Norris to end the inning.

"There was excitement, nerves, but not too much," Minor said. "I felt pretty comfortable out there. I know there are good guys out there and a really good guy behind the plate. After that first pitch, I was good."

Heyward's homer had given Atlanta a 2-0 lead in the third inning.

Norris yielded seven hits and four runs in 6 2-3 innings.

Notes: The Astros are hoping that RHP Brian Moehler can recover from a tear in his groin without surgery. Manager Brad Mills said they are looking to begin a rehabilitation plan to get him healthy and avoid surgery and said they would probably know more about the plan on Tuesday. ... Houston Astros optioned left-hander Wesley Wright to Triple-A Round Rock and recalled newly acquired reliever Mark Melancon on Monday. The Astros got Melancon in the deal that sent Lance Berkman to the New York Yankees. ... Atlanta's Omar Infante singled in the seventh inning to extend his hitting streak to a career-high-tying 12 games.

Regional events