Braves 2, Phillies 1

Some were ready to give up on Mike Minor when the left-hander

gave up six or more runs in four straight starts in April and

May.

Suddenly Minor is rewarding the Braves for their patience.

Minor struck out nine and combined with Craig Kimbrel on a

four-hitter, Jason Heyward had two hits and drove in a run, and

Atlanta edged Joe Blanton and the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1

Saturday night.

Minor (6-7) allowed one run on four hits and no walks in eight

innings. His nine strikeouts matched his season high. He retired

the last 13 batters he faced.

”It takes a little time,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said

of the 24-year-old Minor. ”He’s not a finished product by any

means. He’s heading in that direction pretty quickly and right in

front of our eyes. Good for him and good for us as an organization

and a team to be patient with that guy.”

The Phillies’ only run came on Chase Utley’s homer in the

fourth.

Minor showed new-found composure as he refused to be deterred by

the homer.

The left-hander called his progress during the season ”a

complete 180, just in confidence and my demeanor on the mound and

not letting things get to me.”

”I feel like I’ve had the confidence, it was just more of

executing pitches and not blowing up on myself inside and letting

it carry over to the next inning or the next at-bat,” Minor

said.

Kimbrel pitched a perfect ninth for his 30th save. Utley was

caught looking at Kimbrel’s 99 mph fastball for a strike to end the

game.

The Braves, who lost 12 of 18 games to the Phillies in 2011, are

6-2 against Philadelphia with five straight wins in 2012. Atlanta

swept a three-game series at Philadelphia on July 6-8 and will try

to complete another three-game sweep on Sunday.

Minor made his longest start since lasting eight innings in a

win at Arizona on April 19. He has not allowed more than two runs

in any of his four starts in July and has won three of his last

four decisions.

”He’s getting better and better and I think he’s a guy we’re

going to rely on down the stretch here to win us some big

ballgames,” said catcher Brian McCann. ”Tonight was one of the

steps of doing that.”

While Minor is gaining momentum, two straight losses to the

Braves could affect plans for the last-place Phillies as they

approach Tuesday’s trade deadline.

Blanton (8-9) gave up two runs on four hits with one walk and

seven strikeouts in seven innings and then talked about the

possibility he could be traded.

”I’ve been in the trade rumors a few times and it’s nothing new

for me,” said Blanton, who will be a free agent after the

season.

”All you can do is go out and play.”

Blanton said the sudden fall from the top of the division has

been difficult to take.

”I think a lot of guys are kind of thrown off by it, trying to

figure out why and all that stuff,” Blanton said. ”It makes your

mind spin a little bit.”

Before the game, manager Charlie Manuel said the Phillies lack

the edge they showed in winning the 2008 World Series and 2009 NL

championship.

”One time we had the best attitude and the best hustle of any

team in baseball,” Manuel said. ”We’ve kind of slipped a little

bit. We’ve got to get that back. … We get outplayed.”

Blanton and Minor began the night ranked first and second,

respectively, among NL pitchers in home runs allowed. Minor matched

Blanton’s 22 homers allowed on Utley’s blast into the center field

seats.

With one out in the first, Martin Prado singled, advanced to

third on Heyward’s single and scored on Chipper Jones’ fly ball to

center. Instead of throwing to the plate, center fielder Shane

Victorino threw toward first base, but first baseman Ryan Howard

was not covering the bag and the throw sailed past first for

Victorino’s first error in 273 games – since Aug. 14, 2010, at the

Mets.

The error was not costly, as Heyward was stranded at second.

The Braves pushed the lead to 2-1 in the third when Michael

Bourn led off with a single, moved to second on Prado’s groundout

and scored when Heyward’s infield hit bounced off Utley into right

field. Utley was positioned in shallow right field and no error was

charged on the play.

Blanton recorded 11 straight outs before the streak ended on the

Phillies’ second error. Brian McCann led off the second with a soft

grounder Blanton fielded in front of the mound, but Howard dropped

Blanton’s throw at first base. Blanton pitched around the error by

retiring the next three batters.

NOTES: C Erik Kratz started for Carlos Ruiz, who was given a

regular day off, but also is battling plantar fasciitis. Manuel

said he believes Ruiz, who lined out as a pinch hitter in the

eighth, can play through the foot pain with help from trainers. …

Gonzalez said RHP Kris Medlen will replace RHP Jair Jurrjens in the

rotation and start Tuesday against the Marlins. Jurrjens moves to

the bullpen. … RHP Peter Moylan, who is returning from rotator

cuff surgery and hasn’t pitched in the majors this season, was

placed on Triple-A Gwinnett’s 15-day DL with right shoulder

tendinitis. … SS Andrelton Simmons, on the disabled list with a

broken right little finger, said his cast should come off next

week. … The series ends Sunday when Phillies RHP Roy Halladay

faces Atlanta RHP Tim Hudson.