SAN FRANCISCO – Jason Heyward made a last-second maneuver to avoid a tag, Evan Gattis did something he’d never done in the majors, and Mike Minor did something he hadn’t done since late August.
It was a big night for the Braves.
Gattis’ first major league triple drove in the first run of the game in the fourth inning, and Minor was dominant into the seventh inning of a 5-0 win against the Giants Tuesday night at AT&T Park, snapping a five-game road losing streak.
“Good team win,” said Heyward, whose avoidance of a seemingly certain tag at home plate sparked a three-run sixth inning. “Pitching was huge, defense was huge, lot of timely hits. Just keeping it simple. We really kept it simple tonight. Not to say we always try to hit homers, but we didn’t go up there with that mindset, and we were able to just get knocks and keep guys moving around the bases and manufacture some runs.”
Minor (1-2) retired 16 consecutive batters after Hunter Pence’s one-out double in the first inning and allowed only three hits in 6 2/3 innings to snap his string of eight winless regular-season starts. The left-hander struck out six and walked two in the majors-leading 30th quality start by a Braves pitcher.
“Jason with the slide in there was pretty nice,” “said Minor, who allowed two runs in six innings of a 2-1 loss to the Giants on May 2 in his season debut.
The Braves, who scored two runs on a pair of replay-reviewed plays, beat the surging Giants for the first time in five games this season.
They pushed the lead to 2-0 on Freddie Freeman’s RBI single in the sixth inning, even though right fielder Pence’s throw beat Heyward to the plate by about 10 feet. Heyward had singled to start the inning and alertly advanced to second base on what was little more than a pop fly to center field by Justin Upton.
“Those things go unnoticed for people who aren’t paying attention,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “And then somehow he gets his big 6-foot-5 body to go about 5-2 and gets by Posey.”
Heyward looked hung out to dry when sent home on Freeman’s single to right, but he used a last-second move to the outside to slide around the tag of catcher Buster Posey.
“Some athleticism there,” Heyward said. “I wasn’t going to quit on the play. I saw the ball going home, and he walked toward me (to make the tag). I didn’t think he was going to walk toward me. I was going to slide regardless, out or safe, and I just made that kind of move.”
The Giants challenged the safe call, but it took only 35 seconds for it be confirmed after review. The inning was just getting started for the Braves.
After a Gattis walk and a groundout, B.J. Upton and Andrelton Simmons added consecutive two-out singles to drive in two more runs for a three-run inning and a 4-0 lead — a relatively huge margin for the Braves of late.
They scored a run on another replay review involving another Freeman at-bat in the seventh inning, this time a call the Braves challenged.
With runners on the corners and one out in the seventh, Freeman grounded into what would’ve been an inning-ending 3-6-3 double play. The Braves challenged the out call at first base because relief pitcher David Huff appeared to have missed the base with his foot.
The play was reviewed and the call overturned, which also gave the Braves a run on the play for a 5-0 lead.
“At the end of the day the (replay) system worked,” Gonzalez said, “it’s just awkward how you get to that spot.”
Even more awkward was a moment when the Giants fan-entertainment people began the seventh-inning stretch and fan sing-along, only to have to stop the music when they realized the Freeman out call was being challenged and reviewed.
They started the song all over again one batter later after Gattis struck out to end the inning.
Minor’s third start of the season – he missed the first month recovering from shoulder tendinitis – couldn’t have gone much differently than his start a week ago, when he gave up 11 hits and six runs in 4-1/3 innings of a 7-1 loss to the Cardinals. He was 0-6 with a 4.74 ERA in his past eight regular-season starts, and the Braves had scored one or no runs while Minor was in the game in six of his past seven.
He was staked to a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning when Gattis tripled to the deepest part of the ballpark in right-center, scoring Freeman from first. Gattis and Freeman are two of the largest and slowest players on the team, but each was able to advance three bases on a ball that rolled to a cranny where the right-field and center-field meet at 421 feet.
“Gattis, that must have been the longest it’s taken for someone to get to third base (on a triple),” Gonzalez said, smiling.
It was the first major league triple for Gattis in his 493rd plate appearance. The catcher had six triples in 955 plate appearances in the minors, including four in 49 games for Double-A Mississippi in 2012, when he wasn’t as muscular as he is now as a 250-pound big leaguer.
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