Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has been waiting for his offense to wake up.
It’s too soon to declare that Atlanta’s bats have returned to respectability, but at least the Braves are taking the necessary steps.
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Freddie Freeman and Justin Upton homered to help Mike Minor win his second consecutive start, and Atlanta beat the Milwaukee Brewers 9-3 Monday night.
"We started swinging the bats really, really well," Gonzalez said. "Not only the home runs, but there were some two-out singles, there were some base on balls, there was a lot of baserunning. It was nice to see."
Pinch-hitter Ryan Doumit also went deep for Atlanta in a matchup of first-place teams. The Braves, who had lost 12 of 18, never trailed in winning their second straight game.
Atlanta began the night with the fewest runs in the majors. But the Braves banged out a season-high 15 hits and improved to 18-5 when hitting a home run.
Minor (2-2) gave up two runs and five hits with five strikeouts in 6 2-3 innings. The left-hander, lifted with a 4-2 lead, appreciated the run support.
"We’re still in first place, and everybody’s talking about how bad we were playing," Minor said. "It was good to have that cushion when we won a lot of games, but we have too good of players to be worried about it."
Ryan Braun and Khris Davis homered for the Brewers, who have lost three straight. Braun also threw out a runner at the plate from right field.
Wily Peralta (4-3) allowed nine hits, a season-high four walks and three runs — two earned — with five strikeouts in five innings. The right-hander began the night 1-1 with a 1.29 ERA in three starts this month, but he couldn’t overcome poor command of his pitches.
"That’s the first time, but that’s going to happen during the season," Peralta said. "You try to do your best and keep the team in the ballgame."
Freeman led off the third with his ninth homer to make it 3-0. Davis lost his glove over the left-field fence on Freeman’s opposite-field shot. A fan picked up the glove off a ledge between the fence and the seats and tossed it back to Davis after Freeman rounded the bases.
The Braves broke open a one-run game in the eighth, scoring five times off reliever Wei-Chung Wang to make it 9-3. Doumit hit a solo shot, Upton’s 11th homer was a two-run drive, and Atlanta got RBI singles from Andrelton Simmons and Ramiro Pena.
After Wang needed 40 pitches to get two outs, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke brought in first baseman Lyle Overbay off the bench to pitch. The 37-year-old Overbay pitched for the first time in his 14-year major league career, retiring Doumit on a popup.
Doumit, who was teammates with Overbay in Pittsburgh, got a good laugh out of the at-bat.
"That kid’s got nasty stuff," Doumit said with a smile. "He’s got a bright future ahead of him. I’m going to keep my eye on him."
Zach Duke, who relieved Peralta to begin the sixth, gave up a leadoff single to Minor and a single to Jason Heyward before Upton reached safely when catcher Martin Maldonado was called for interference.
Rob Wooten relieved with one out and gave up Evan Gattis’ sacrifice fly that made it 4-2.
David Hale relieved Minor with a runner at second base and ended the threat when Carlos Gomez grounded out.
Braun’s seventh homer, an opposite-field shot to right off David Carpenter, cut the margin to 4-3 in the eighth.
Atlanta took a 1-0 lead in the first when Heyward led off with a single, stole second and scored on Maldonado’s passed ball and throwing error to third.
The Braves went ahead 2-0 in the second on Pena’s RBI single.
Davis’ fifth homer, a two-run shot in the fifth, cut it to 3-2.
NOTES: The Braves have won 10 of their last 12 against Milwaukee at Turner Field. … Gomez went 1 for 3 in his first game since last Tuesday. He served a three-game suspension last week for his role in a bench-clearing dustup April 20 at Pittsburgh and missed two weekend games at the Chicago Cubs with back stiffness and a stomach virus. … Heyward, who began the game hitting .186 in his last 43 at-bats, went 3 for 4 with two stolen bases. … Braun’s outfield assist ended the Atlanta fourth as Heyward, trying to score from second on Freeman’s single to right, was tagged out at the plate.