Minor pitches well but Braves fall to Dodgers, 5-0

By Charles Odum

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Aug. 19 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

Atlanta Braves shortstop Paul Janish (4) and out fielder Reed Johnson lose sight of a ball off the bat of Los Angeles Dodgers' Adam Kennedy during the ninth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, Aug. 19, 2012, in Atlanta. Los Angeles won 5-0.

John Amis, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

ATLANTA — Mike Minor's losses are mounting even as his ERA keeps falling.

Minor gave up only one run in seven innings, but Atlanta's defensive problems helped the Dodgers add to their lead late in their 5-0 win over the Braves on Sunday.

Chad Billingsley combined with relievers Ronald Belisario and Scott Elbert for a three-hit shutout.

Luis Cruz homered deep into the left-field seats in the fifth off Minor (6-10) for a 1-0 lead. Mark Ellis drove in four runs, three with a bases-loaded double in the ninth.

Right fielder Jason Heyward dropped two fly balls in the sun late in the game, helping the Dodgers add to their lead.

Minor allowed one run on five hits and no walks in seven innings. He hasn't allowed more than three runs in his last eight starts, but he has three straight losses.

"I thought he was outstanding," said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, who noted Minor escaped a bases-loaded jam in the third inning.

"He got into a jam early and wiggled out of it," Gonzalez said. "It's nice to see that maturity that he can get out of those jams."

Minor's ERA dropped from 4.93 to 4.74. It was 6.20 at the end of June.

The Braves have scored one run in Minor's last three starts.

Los Angeles took two of three to Atlanta's streak of seven straight series wins. The Braves head to Washington to begin a three-game series against the NL East-leading Nationals.

Chad Durbin walked pinch-hitter Juan Uribe to start with eighth. Uribe moved to third on Shane Victorino's hit-and-run single to left and scored when a flyball hit by Ellis dropped in front of Heyward for a single. Heyward lost the ball in the sun even though he was wearing sunglasses.

Heyward said the ball kept falling away from him and remained directly in the sun.

"I tried to stay on it as long as I could but it kept going the other way," Heyward said.

Heyward lost another ball in the sun in the ninth, giving A.J. Ellis a double off Cristhian Martinez. Pinch-hitter Adam Kennedy followed with a bloop single to left between shortstop Paul Janish and left fielder Reed Johnson.

Cristhian Martinez walked Victorino to load the bases. Mark Ellis followed with his three-run double down the left-field line.

"I can't explain it to you," Gonzalez said of Heyward's struggles in the field. "We lost two balls in the sun.

"When you give a team outs or opportunities with balls in the sun or losing fly balls and that kind of stuff or walking people, it seems like it's written in the rule book someplace that sooner or later somebody's going to hit a ball in the gap. And that's what they did."

There was sarcastic applause from the crowd of 26,798 when Heyward caught Kemp's flyball for the second out of the ninth.

Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez, Andre Ethier and Juan Rivera were a combined 0 for 16 for the Dodgers.

"The good thing about this team is if it's not Hanley or Matty or Ethier, somebody else has been doing the job," Cruz said.

Cruz, the third baseman who was called up from Triple-A Albuquerque on July 3, had two hits to complete a productive series. He was 6 for 11 (.545) with two homers and a double.

Cruz said hitting homers in back-to-back games "is crazy."

"I feel good," he said. "I've been working a lot and I thank God they gave me the opportunity to prove what I can do, and I think I'm doing a good job."

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