Braves struggle against hot Padres in loss
ATLANTA (AP) -- The members of Atlanta's new six-man rotation have about two weeks to show they deserve to remain starters.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez said Mike Minor's loss to the Padres is not a mark against the left-hander's hopes of staying in the rotation.
Minor gave up three runs in six innings but had too little support as San Diego's Eric Stults combined with two relievers on a five-hitter to lead the Padres to a 4-1 win over the Braves on Monday night.
Minor (6-9) gave up three runs, nine hits and no walks.
"I thought Mike did a terrific job," Gonzalez said. "It's a night that, most nights, you've got a chance to win the ballgame."
Gonzalez said Monday he will move to a six-man rotation when right-hander Tommy Hanson comes off the 15-day disabled list to start on Friday against the Dodgers. Hanson joins Tim Hudson, Paul Maholm, Kris Medlen, Ben Sheets and Minor in the rotation.
Gonzalez said he will pick five starters from the group at the end of the month, the other will move to the bullpen.
Minor has not allowed more than three runs in seven straight starts. He has lowered his ERA from 7.09 on May 16 to 4.93 ERA.
"I feel like there was a lot of bad luck tonight," Minor said. "I feel like I made some quality pitches, I just didn't have good outcomes."
Chase Headley homered and drove in two runs for San Diego.
Stults (3-2) gave up five hits and one run in 7 2-3 innings -- his longest start in three years. While with the Dodgers, Stults beat the Giants 8-0 on May 9, 2009, his last complete game.
Stults' curveballs were clocked in the mid-60s, making his high-80s fastball look faster. That range helped to keep Atlanta's batters off-balance.
"He frustrated us," Gonzalez said. "He got us out of our normal game plan of seeing pitches and working the count a little bit.
"He really, really was frustrating. We just weren't our normal selves."
The Padres, who had a six-game winning streak snapped on Sunday, have won eight of 10 for the first time this season.
Stults pitched for Los Angeles from 2006-09 and appeared in six games with Colorado in 2011. Any memories of Stults were too few and too faint to be of help to the Braves.
"It's the first time we've faced him," said Martin Prado, who actually was 2 for 4 in his career against Stults before Monday. "For me, I was trying to recognize what he had.
"He looked pretty good. He was mixing all his pitches in a real good way. We were trying to figure it out. The next time we've got to be patient, because he's one of those guys who can spot the ball."
The weather conditions made Turner Field a pitcher's park. Rain delayed the start of the game for 25 minutes and left the air unusually cool. The first-pitch temperature was 71 degrees and the wind was blowing in.
Stults lost his bid for a shutout in the eighth when Michael Bourn singled and scored on Prado's triple into the right-field corner. Luke Gregerson struck out Jason Heyward to end the inning.
Dale Thayer pitched a perfect ninth for his sixth save.
Yonder Alonso had three hits and Chris Denorfia had two hits and scored two runs for the Padres.
The Braves' first threat came in the fourth, when Heyward reached on first baseman Alonso's fielding error with two outs and moved to third on Chipper Jones' single to left. Freddie Freeman's groundout ended the inning.
Prado and Heyward had consecutive singles with two outs in the sixth before Jones ended the inning with a fly ball to center.
Denorfia led off the second with a double and later scored on Cameron Maybin's sacrifice fly. Denorfia led off the sixth with a triple and scored on Alonso's single.
Stults singled in the sixth and scored on a single by Headley, who was thrown out as he tried to advance to second. Headley hit his 19th homer off Chad Durbin in the seventh.
NOTES: Braves SS Jack Wilson, who has been on the 15-day DL with a dislocated right little finger, aggravated the injury in a rehab game with Triple-A Gwinnett and was back in Atlanta to have the finger examined. ... Headley was named NL player of the week after hitting .333 with three homers and 11 RBIs for the period ending Sunday. ... Padres LHP Clayton Richard, coming off a shutout of the Cubs, will start against Braves RHP Tim Hudson on Tuesday night.