Baseball / Sports

Braves blank the Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- Atlanta Braves catcher Evan Gattis did something that he'd never done in the major leagues, and it helped Mike Minor do something the pitcher hadn't done since late August.

Gattis' first major league triple drove in the first run of the game in the fourth inning, and Minor pitched superbly in a 5-0 win against the Giants on Tuesday night at AT&T Park.

Minor (1-2) retired 16 consecutive batters after Hunter Pence's one-out double in the first inning and allowed only three hits in 6 2/3 innings to snap his string of eight winless regular-season starts. The left-hander struck out six and walked two in the majors-leading 30th quality start by a Braves pitcher.

The Braves, who scored two runs on a pair of replay-reviewed plays, snapped a five-game road losing streak and beat the Giants for the first time in five games this season and third time in the teams' past 11 meetings.

They pushed the lead to 2-0 on Freddie Freeman's RBI single in the sixth inning, even though right fielder Pence's throw beat Jason Heyward to the plate by about 10 feet. Heyward alertly slid around the tag of catcher Buster Posey, who tried to reach from a safe distance to tag Heyward as he rumbled toward the plate, and missed entirely.

The Giants challenged the call, but it took only 35 seconds for it be confirmed after review. The inning was just getting started for the Braves.

After a Gattis walk and a groundout, B.J. Upton and Andrelton Simmons added consecutive two-out singles to drive in two more runs for a three-run inning and a 4-0 lead -- a relatively huge margin for the Braves of late.

They scored a run on another replay review involving another Freeman at-bat in the seventh inning, this time a call that the Braves challenged.

With runners on the corners and one out in the seventh, Freeman grounded into what would've been an inning-ending 3-6-3 double play. The Braves challenged the out call at first base because relief pitcher David Huff appeared to have missed the base with his foot.

The play was reviewed and the call overturned, which also gave the Braves a run on the play for a 5-0 lead. There was an awkward moment when the Giants fan-entertainment people had begun the seventh-inning stretch and fan sing-along, and had to stop the music as the Freeman play was reviewed.

They re-started the song one batter later after Gattis struck out to end the inning.

Minor's third start of the season -- he missed the first month recovering from shoulder tendinitis -- couldn't have gone much differently than his start a week ago, when he gave up 11 hits and six runs in 4-1/3 innings of a 7-1 loss to the Cardinals. He was 0-6 with a 4.74 ERA in his past eight regular-season starts, and the Braves had scored one or no runs while Minor was in the game in six of his past seven.

He was staked to a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning when Gattis tripled to the deepest part of the ballpark in right-center, scoring Freeman from first base. Gattis and Freeman are two of the largest and slowest players on the team, but each hustled as the ball rolled toward a cranny where the right-field and center-field meet at 421 feet.

It was the first major league triple for Gattis in his 493rd plate appearance. However, the catcher had six triples in 955 plate appearances in the minors, including four in 49 games for Double-A Mississippi in 2012, when he wasn't as muscular as he is now as a 250-pound big leaguer.

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