ATLANTA (AP) - Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez believes Mike Minor isn't far from delivering on high expectations.
It's just that Minor, the seventh overall draft pick of 2009, needs more seasoning in the minor leagues.
``I told him he did a hell of a job in both outings, this one and the one in Pittsburgh,' Gonzalez said. ``He kept us in the ballgame. That seventh inning didn't quite go the way we wanted it to go, and we were behind the eight-ball coming out of it.'
Ryan Ludwick had an RBI single in the three-run seventh, Heath Bell struggled to earn a fourth straight save and the San Diego Padres beat the Braves 5-4 on Tuesday night for their season-high fourth consecutive victory.
Minor (0-2) couldn't hold a one-run lead in the fourth. Chris Denorfia led off with a double, moved to third on Jason Bartlett's single and scored to make it 2-2 on Headley's double-play groundout.
Minor, who was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett after the game, faced one batter in the seventh, walking leadoff pinch-hitter Eric Patterson before Gonzalez brought in rookie reliever Cory Gearrin.
Outfielder Matt Young will take Minor's place on the 25-man roster.
``I understand it,' Minor said. ``It's not a really big deal to me right now. I'd obviously want to stay here but I know I don't have a spot here. I'm going to go down and get better.'
In six innings, Minor allowed eight hits and three runs with three walks and four strikeouts. He dropped to 0-3 with a 7.23 ERA in his last seven starts, a span that began last Sept. 5.
``They were staying on pitches,' Minor said. ``I threw a couple good pitches and they hit them pretty hard. They're good hitters. The breaking ball obviously wasn't there again. I was throwing a lot of fastballs in.'
Chipper Jones followed in the Braves' seventh with an RBI single off San Diego's first reliever, Luke Gregorson, to make it 5-3. Left-hander Cory Luebke recorded the third out with a three-pitch strikeout of Brian McCann.
Freddie Freeman went 3 for 4. He and Jones were the only Braves with more than one hit.
The Padres haven't won four consecutive games since they had a five-game streak last Aug. 15-19. They also took a series against the Braves for just the second time in the last 13 tries.
Ludwick, who went 4 for 5, has hit safely in 15 of 18 games, raising his batting average 77 points to .258 since May 10. He finished the month with 23 RBIs.
Bell survived a tough ninth to earn his 14th in 15 chances. He retired pinch-hitter Joe Mather on foul popup before walking walked Jordan Schafer and getting Martin Prado to fly out before Jones' RBI single scored Schafer from second.
Bell forced McCann to fly out to end it, marking the second time in his career, and first since last Aug. 10-13, that he got a save in four straight games.
Mat Latos (3-6) allowed five hits and two runs with four walks and seven strikeouts in six innings.
``My fastball command wasn't there as much as I'd like,' the right-hander said. ``Earlier, I was getting behind in the count too much.'
Latos lowered his ERA 11 points to 3.97 and closed May with a 3-2 record and a 3.38 ERA.
San Diego, which finished with 14 hits, took a 5-2 lead in the seventh with RBI singles off Gearrin from Denorfia, Ludwick and Jorge Cantu.
Denorfia went 3 for 5 and scored two runs.
San Diego took a 1-0 lead in the third on an RBI double from Chase Headley that scored Bartlett from first.
Freeman put the Braves ahead 2-1 with a two-run double that scored McCann from second and Eric Hinske from first.
Notes: Padres CF Cameron Maybin underwent an MRI that showed no structural damage in his right knee, but Black said he will go on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday. OF Aaron Cunningham will be called up from Triple-A Tucson to take Maybin's place on the roster. ... Slumping Braves 2B Dan Uggla, whose average dropped to .178 in Monday's loss, was held out of the lineup. He pinch-ran for Jones in the ninth. ... Minor's first career hit in the third, erased by Schafer's double-play groundout. ... Prado ended a 19-game hitting streak at Turner Field, going 0 for 4.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved