Baseball / Sports

Bonifacio has 4 hits, Minor strong again in 6-1 win over Mets

NEW YORK -- For those who were still skeptical of Braves pitcher Mike Minor after his performance Friday at Cincinnati, where he took a no-hitter to the eighth inning, his seven-plus innings of four-hit ball Thursday against the Mets should help erase any lingering doubts.

It was another impressive outing by the left-hander, who didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning or a run until the eighth in a 6-1 win against the Mets that gave the Braves a series win to complete a 6-4 road trip.

They trimmed a half-game off the idle Nationals' lead in the National League East, but the Braves still trail by six games with 28 to play.

Emilio Bonifacio had four hits and two RBIs, and Minor chipped in with two hits himself including an RBI single and a double.

Minor (6-8) had a two-hit shutout until the eighth inning, when he was replaced after giving up a Travis d'Arnaud double and Eric Campbell single to start the inning, the latter hit accounting for the Mets' only run. Minor gave up four hits and no walks with five strikeouts, and threw 65 strikes in 98 pitches.

In his previous start, he gave up just one hit and one run in 7 2/3 innings against the Reds at their bandbox of a ballpark, with four walks and five strikeouts. He got no decision in that 3-1, 12-inning Braves win.

The offense remains a concern for the Braves, who had one run until the eighth inning and needed three runs in the ninth, including Ryan Doumit's two-run pinch homer, to avoid their sixth consecutive game scoring three runs or fewer.

Minor's RBI single in the second inning accounted for the only run for either side until the eighth, when he started a two-run inning with his second hit of the night, a line-drive double.

Bonifacio drove in Minor with a triple and Freddie Freeman singled to push the lead to 3-0.

While they keep searching for answers offensively -- Bonifacio started in center field in place B.J. Upton for the third time in six games -- the Braves' starting rotation looks deeper and stronger after Minor came through with two overwhelming starts during the road trip to continue his stunning midseason turnaround.

He's 2-1 with a 2.22 ERA and two homers allowed in his past four starts, after going 2-3 with a 7.33 ERA, .357 opponents' average and 12 homers allowed in his previous 10 starts. He's given up just nine hits in 21 2/3 innings over his past three starts.

The Braves skipped Minor's rotation turn at the beginning of the month and had him take the down time to work on his delivery and pitches. He didn't pitch in a game for 11 days, and since returning he's reeled off four consecutive quality starts, the past three of which have been far beyond the minimal requirements for the "quality" designation.

Of the Braves' 28 remaining games after Thursday, 21 are against division opponents.

"That's how we get back in this race," Freeman said before the game. "We're not thinking about wild card. We're still not out of it yet in the division. We've still got the Nationals six more times, so if we can keep within striking distance and play them well coming up when we do play them, I think we're going to get right back in it."

(c)2014 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.)

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