Birthday wish: Continue to dominate dish

Perez turns 25, holds Phillies to two hits over 6 1/3 innings

Birthday wish: Continue to dominate dish

PHILADELPHIA -- If Braves right-hander Williams Perez uses his birthday wish wisely, he will request that each of this season's remaining starts prove to be as efficient as the two dominant ones he has authored against the Phillies over the past two weeks.

Perez celebrated his 25th birthday in impressive fashion on Saturday afternoon, allowing two hits over 6 1/3 scoreless innings in the Braves' 2-0 win over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The young hurler battled through a rainfall that grew heavier in the seventh inning and seemingly influenced his exit.

"On a nice, sunny day, he might have went eight-plus the way he was throwing, because he had it going for sure," said Braves manager Brian Snitker, who was Triple-A Gwinnett's manager when Perez was sent back to the Minors in April to make some mechanical adjustments.

Feeding off the confidence he gained by limiting the Phillies to two hits over eight innings on May 11, Perez was in total control as he commanded his sinker and also had success with both his changeup and curveball in this latest outing. He retired 19 of the 22 batters he faced and did not allow the Phillies to advance past first base. His effort helped the Braves win a second consecutive game for the first time since April 19.

"It feels great to go out there and perform and be able to contribute to the team," Perez said. "That's something I always want to be able to do."

As Perez has retired 42 of the 47 batters he's faced over two starts against the Phillies this month, he certainly hasn't looked like he did in April when command issues prevented him from completing five innings in any of the three starts he made before being optioned to Gwinnett.

In between these two strong efforts against the Phillies, Perez surrendered six earned runs over six innings against the Pirates. But even with that shaky effort, he appears to have made big strides since the start of this season. He slowed his mechanics during his time with Gwinnett and focused on attacking the outer half of the plate against left-handed hitters.

"He seems to be a reliable pitcher that will get in there and throw strikes," Braves utility man Chase d'Arnaud said. "He's got some good run on his ball. When guys get on base, it seems like they complain about [the movement of his pitches], which is a good thing for us."

After struggling through the first two starts made for Gwinnett, Perez earned a return to the Major Leagues when he tossed a one-hit shutout against Charlotte on May 6. Before Saturday, Snitker had not seen Perez pitch since he had ended his Minor League stint with that gem.

"It was good to see him get after it under adverse conditions," Snitker said. "It didn't seem to bother him at all. He kept working and kept pitching. He did a heck of a job."

Worth noting

• The Braves officially announced Casey Kelly was promoted from Gwinnett to start Sunday's game against the Phillies. Kelly will fill the rotation spot opened when Aaron Blair was sent back to the Minors on Wednesday. Joel De La Cruz was optioned to Gwinnett to create a roster spot for Kelly. De La Cruz has not pitched during either of his two brief stints with Atlanta this year.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.