Minor pitches well, Braves' bullpen can't hold on
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Mike Minor turned in a solid effort only to have it spoiled by the bullpen.
Norichika Aoki had a two-run double to key a four-run seventh inning, and the Milwaukee Brewers rallied to beat the Atlanta Braves 4-1 Monday night.
Minor had allowed only two hits through 5 2-3 innings — a ground-rule double to Aoki and a single by Martin Maldonado — and looked to be in line for his second victory over Milwaukee this season.
He struck out eight and walked two. After striking out Ryan Braun with his career-high 115th pitch for the second out in the sixth, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez brought in Cory Gearrin. After Aramis Ramirez walked, Gearrin struck out Rickie Weeks swinging.
"It seems like there's always on guy on a staff who doesn't get run support," Gonzalez said. "And, that's Mike. He really battled, but had to throw 115 pitches."
The Brewers sent 10 batters to the plate in the seventh, but did all the damage on two hits and a sacrifice fly in snapping the Braves' five-game winning streak.
"Once Mike came out, it got ugly," Chipper Jones said. "We forced them to make perfect throws under duress and they did. Give them credit."
Martin Maldonado led off the seventh with a single off Jonny Venters (5-4), who was trying to protect a 1-0 lead for Minor. Pinch-hitter Jean Segura walked.
Milwaukee got a break when Jeff Bianchi bunted back to Venters, who fielded the sacrifice and threw wide of third baseman Chipper Jones. Pinch-runner Eric Farris scored on the throwing error and Segura and Bianchi each moved up a base.
"Mike threw the ball so well and my job is to come in and hold them down," Venter said. "I didn't do my job. I gave it up."
Venter said it was bad fundamentals.
"I felt like I got there quick, but I rushed it and made a bad throw."
Jones agreed that the error was costly.
"That play right there was the ballgame," he said.
Chad Durbin came on to face pinch-hitter Jonathan Lucroy and walked him to load the bases. Aoki then hit a 2-0 pitch to the wall in left for a two-run double. Lucroy scored on Carlos Gomez's sacrifice fly to complete the scoring.
Jose Veras (4-4) pitched the seventh and worked out of a bases-loaded jam to earn the victory.
John Axford worked the ninth for his 28th save.
Milwaukee's 16th win in 21 games has brought the Brewers back to the fringe of the NL wild-card race.
The Brewers pulled to five games back of St. Louis for the final NL wild-card spot. The Braves remained 5 1-2 games ahead of the Cardinals, 11-3 losers to San Diego, for home-field advantage in the one-game wild-card playoff.