Minor unable to keep lid on Mets in defeat

Minor unable to keep lid on Mets in defeat

ATLANTA -- As the Braves prepared to conclude their grueling five-game series against the Mets, they were comforted by the fact that they were sending Mike Minor to the mound. But instead of strengthening his bid to earn an All-Star selection, Minor did a couple of things he had not done in nearly a full calendar year.

While the Braves squandered many scoring opportunities in Thursday night's 4-3 loss to the Mets at Turner Field, Minor said he had only himself to blame for surrendering a season-high three home runs and consecutive doubles that proved decisive in the seventh inning.

"The home runs were just bad pitches," Minor said. "Hanging curveball, a fastball over the middle of the plate and then a first-pitch hanging slider. So I give the credit to those guys. They were bad pitches, and they took them out of the yard."

David Wright hit two solo home runs and pinch-hitter Andrew Brown added one of his own to help the Mets, who saw starting pitcher Jon Niese exit in the fourth inning because of left shoulder discomfort. The crushing blows to Minor came courtesy of the consecutive opposite-field doubles by Omar Quintanilla -- at the end of a 10-pitch at-bat -- and Josh Satin to open the seventh.

With just two wins in these five games, the Braves, who stranded 11 runners and went 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position, lost a home series for the first time this season. They lost both games of Tuesday's doubleheader, which was completed less than 24 hours after Monday's rain-delayed series opener concluded on Tuesday at 1:22 a.m. ET.

"It's just the way it happens sometimes," B.J. Upton said. "All you can do is put a good swing on the ball, and whatever happens after that is out of your control."

Upton's bid to come up big on his bobblehead night came to an end with a sharp liner snared by Quintanilla to seal the Mets' win. Upton also teamed with Chris Johnson to record consecutive strikeouts to end the first inning after Niese surrendered singles to three of the first four batters he faced. The only run that materialized in that frame came on Justin Upton's RBI single.

"It's a good feeling to come in here and take this series against this team, because they're obviously one of the elite teams," said Wright, who has hit four of his 11 home runs against the Braves.

After gaining a 3-1 lead, Minor allowed Wright to hit a 0-1 curveball over the left-field wall. Three innings earlier, the third baseman has drilled a 1-0 fastball over the left-center-field wall.

"David Wright, he's a really good hitter, and then to throw a fastball over the middle of the plate, you just can't do that," Minor said. "It was up and middle, and then a hanging curveball that was up and middle. That's what that guy does."

Brown added to Minor's troubles when he began the fifth by hitting a first-pitch slider that landed in the first row beyond the left-field fence. This marked the first time Minor allowed at least three home runs in a game since his June 24 outing last year in Boston.

Minor allowed four earned runs and a season-high nine hits in six innings. The usually steady left-hander has now allowed four earned runs in consecutive outings for the first time since June 30. He entered this past weekend's start against the Giants having posted a 2.32 ERA in his previous 28 outings.

"I just feel like in certain situations I make bad pitches," Minor said. "I make stupid decisions, and I really don't throw the ball down in the zone when I need to. I guess the last half of last year and this first half, I feel like I've made a lot better pitches."

Freddie Freeman and Justin Upton sparked Atlanta's two-run third inning with consecutive one-out singles. Both scored on the two-out singles by Johnson and Gerald Laird. The Braves entered the game hitting .188 with two outs and runners in scoring position -- the third-worst mark in the Majors.

Right-handed reliever David Aardsma gave up singles to two of the first three batters he faced after replacing Niese in the fourth. But he escaped unscathed when left fielder Eric Young Jr. made a diving grab of Justin Upton's two-out liner.

The Braves put runners on the corners with two outs in the eighth inning before Jason Heyward's bid for a three-hit night resulted in an inning-ending groundout against left-handed reliever Josh Edgin.

"We got 13 hits and only three runs, that's about it," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We had some people on base, and we just couldn't get the knock when we needed to."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.