ATLANTA -- This is the Mike Minor the Braves have been waiting on.
The A's came to Atlanta with the best record in baseball. They don't have it anymore. They came with the top mark in the American League West. That is gone too. Starter John Lester had wins all his starts with the team. That's no longer true.
The Braves got a strong pitching performance from Minor and another Justin Upton Turner Field home run in a 4-3 victory for a series sweep of the A's in Sunday night's nationally televised game.
Making his second start after being skipped in the rotation, Minor (5-8) worked seven innings and allowed four hits, including two solo home runs, and two walks while striking out seven. Craig Kimbrel preserved the win for his 37th save.
The Braves (64-60) remained six games behind the Nationals in the National League East and 1 1/2 games behind the Giants for the second wild-card playoff spot. The Braves finished their 10-game homestand with a 6-4 record against three teams that entered each series first in their division.
The A's (73-51) lost their fifth straight game and trail the Angels in the American League West. John Lester (13-8) was 3-0 with a 2.49 ERA in his three starts since being acquired from Red Sox on July 31. He allowed four runs (three earned) in his six innings before chased by a Chris Johnson home run and an Evan Gattis single to start the seventh inning.
Minor worked out of early trouble after he allowed a Coco Crisp double to start the game. Crisp would advance no further. Then, after allowing a Nate Frieman home run to lead off the second inning, Minor faced one over the minimum in the next 17 batters, aided by two double plays to erase a walk and a single. The only A's player to reach came on Phil Gosselin error trying to catch a fly ball that hit off his glove between the triangle between first, second and right field.
Freiman broke the run with another solo home run with one out in the seventh inning.
Justin Upton drilled an 0-2 pitch over the left field fence, with Gosselin aboard, for his 23 home run of the season in the fourth inning to give the Braves a 3-1 lead. It was Upton's fourth home run of the homestand. Upton is now 5-for-7 with two home runs in his career vs. Lester. Upton is second in the major leagues with 16 home runs at home this season. He finished the homestand hitting .323 (10-for-31) with three homers.
The A's scored first when Freiman led off the second inning by crushing a home run to center field that landed well back in the stands. According to ESPN Stats, the home run traveled 459 feet.
The Braves answered back in the bottom of the inning. Upton led off with a single. Johnson followed with a line-drive out to third that Josh Donaldson threw to first to try to double off Upton. The throw hit a diving Upton and bounced into the Braves dugout for a two-base error. Gattis followed with a sharply hit single to right field to tie the score 1-1.
Johnson's home run in the seventh, his ninth of the season, gave the Braves a 4-2 lead. It was needed after the A's pushed across a run in the eighth. Sam Fuld doubled and advanced to third on B.J. Upton's error. He would score on Crisp's sacrifice fly.
The Braves begin a 10-game road trip Monday against the Pirates.
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