ATLANTA (AP) - Another tough day at the plate had the Toronto Blue Jays pondering some lineup changes.
Brandon Beachy had a career-high 11 strikeouts in his first start in nearly six weeks, leading the Atlanta Braves to a 5-1 victory that completed a sweep of the struggling Blue Jays on Wednesday.
Dan Uggla and Brian McCann hit two-run homers for the Braves, who wrapped up a homestand with their fourth straight win.
The Blue Jays are heading in the opposite direction. They lost for the ninth time in 13 games, a slide that has knocked them out of contention in the AL East.
Toronto has scored more than four runs only once during that stretch and was particularly inept against the Braves, managing just two runs and 13 hits in three losses at Turner Field.
``The numbers don't lie,' Toronto manager John Farrell said. ``We need to regroup. There's no question about it.'
He might shake up the lineup for a three-game series at St. Louis this weekend.
``We'll continue to search for the right combinations,' Farrell said. ``That doesn't mean there are going to be wholesale changes, but certainly we've got some areas of our lineup where we've got to seek to find more offense.
Beachy (2-1) had been on the disabled list since May 14 with a strained left oblique. After one rehab appearance in the minors, he eclipsed his previous best of nine strikeouts in two other starts.
``I felt good,' the rookie said. ``My arm feels strong and rested.'
The Blue Jays were completely baffled over Beachy's six innings, going down swinging on all but one of his Ks - even chasing breaking balls in the dirt. Toronto managed just four hits off the Atlanta starter, including a third-inning homer by Jose Bautista, and finished with 13 strikeouts overall.
Beachy worked off his fastball and took advantage of an AL team that didn't know much about him.
``He had a really good slider and his fastball's kind of sneaky,' said J.P. Arencibia, who went 0 for 2 with a strikeout against Beachy. ``And he was throwing strikes.'
The Braves have also struggled to score runs, especially with Martin Prado on the disabled list and Uggla coming into the game hitting .176. But their pitching dominated the Blue Jays, who managed just two runs and 13 hits in the three games.
``This just shows how good our pitching staff is,' McCann said. ``They've kept us in every game this year.'
Uggla homered in the second against Jo-Jo Reyes (3-6), brightening what has been a dismal first season with the Braves.
``You want to put up great numbers every year,' Uggla said. ``But I'm past that point. I want to win championships. We've got what it takes in this clubhouse.'
McCann put up a two-run homer for the second game in a row, going deep in the third.
Beachy won for the first time in seven career starts at Turner Field. Scott Linebrink, Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel finished up with a scoreless inning apiece.
Reyes was going for his fourth win in five starts after setting a major league record with 28 consecutive starts without a win. But he fell behind quickly against his former team, giving up a single to Freddie Freeman leading off the second, then serving up a 1-2 pitch that Uggla drove into the left-field seats for his 10th homer.
McCann made it 4-1 with his 13th homer, following up a walk to Jason Heyward with a shot into the right-field bleachers. Reyes went 5 1-3 innings, giving up five hits, walking two and striking out two.
The Braves also scored their final run on a long ball, though it took a video review for Brooks Conrad to make it all the way home. The pinch-hitter thought it was gone, trotting around second base before realizing that the umpires had ruled the ball in play.
Conrad was thrown out at third, but stayed there while three umps ducked into the dugout to get a look at the replay. It clearly showed the ball hitting the top of the wall and ricocheting off a back wall before returning to the field. Conrad trotted home for a delayed celebration with his teammates.
``I went into my trot,' Conrad said with a smile. ``The next thing I know, I'm getting thrown out at third on a home run.'
Jordan Schafer nearly went back to back, but Bautista made a brilliant catch in nearly the same spot where Conrad's went out, leaping above the yellow line to prevent Atlanta's fourth homer of the day.
Bautista hit his 22nd homer in the third.
Notes: Uggla homered for the first time this season off a left-hander. ... Reyes surrendered a pair of homers in his second straight start. Overall, he's given up 10 homers in 85 innings. ... Braves RHP Tommy Hanson played catch before the game. He felt no pain and hopes to start at Seattle on June 28, the first day he's eligible to come off the DL. Hanson is sidelined with tendinitis in his shoulder. ... SS Julio Lugo, called up from the minors the day before, made his first start for the Braves. He beat out an infield hit in his first at-bat. ... Former Braves manager Bobby Cox stopped by the Atlanta clubhouse before the game. He also managed the Blue Jays during his long career, leading Toronto to the AL East title in 1985. ... Conrad has seven pinch-hit homers in his career, including three this season.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved