ATLANTA – After Mike Minor pitched like a rising ace, he tipped his cap to the injured leader of the Atlanta Braves’ rotation.
Minor allowed only one run to give the depleted staff a lift, Jason Heyward homered, and the Braves beat Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals 4-1 in a matchup of division leaders Friday night.
Minor (10-5) gave up four hits with no walks in seven innings. His sharp performance came two days after Tim Hudson was lost for the season with a broken right ankle.
Minor, who became the first Braves pitcher to reach 10 wins, lowered his ERA to 2.89. His strong start was especially important after Hudson’s season ended.
Asked if he felt he needed to step up as staff ace, Minor said, “That’s not really my role. I go out every fifth day and just try to pitch.
“With Huddy going down, that was our ace. That was our best guy. We just need everybody else to step it up a little bit.”
The Atlanta rotation also is without lefty Paul Maholm, who is expected to miss at least one start because of a bruised left wrist.
Braves Manager Fredi Gonzalez also resisted suggestions that Minor is emerging as the ace on a young staff that also includes rookies Julio Teheran and Alex Wood.
“Mike Minor doesn’t have to do anything,” Gonzalez said. “He’s been this good for a while. We saw him growing up and getting better and better about this time last year. Let’s let him dictate his own career.”
Wainwright (13-6), the NL leader in wins, took his first loss since a 2-1 decision to Texas on June 23.
Yadier Molina gave St. Louis a 1-0 lead with his eighth homer in the second inning. The Braves answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning.
Wainwright complimented the Braves’ hitters on their patience in trying for opposite-field hits.
“I think I just have to tip my hat,” Wainwright said. “I think they had a great approach from the first pitch of the game on.”
MARLINS 2, PIRATES 0: Henderson Alvarez earned his first National League victory, Giancarlo Stanton hit his 12th homer, and host Miami managed another low-scoring victory.
METS 11, NATIONALS 0: Daniel Murphy homered twice and tied a career high with five RBI, and Jenrry Mejia pitched seven innings in his season debut as New York took the opener of a day-night doubleheader in Washington.
NATIONALS 2, METS 1: Ryan Zimmerman homered with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, giving Washington a doubleheader split.
ROCKIES 8, BREWERS 3: Tyler Chatwood pitched seven strong innings and hit a two-run double to help the Rockies break out offensively, leading host Colorado past Milwaukee.
INDIANS 11, RANGERS 8: Ryan Raburn’s three-run homer in the 11th inning off Jason Frasor gave host Cleveland a win.
BLUE JAYS 12, ASTROS 6: Edwin Encarnacion hit two home runs in one inning, including his sixth career grand slam, Jose Reyes, Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie also went deep and host Toronto beat Houston.
ROYALS 5, WHITE SOX 1: James Shields tossed seven shutout innings, and rookie David Lough homered and drove in another run to lead Kansas City to a victory at Chicago.
TIGERS 2, PHILLIES 1: Alex Avila’s two-run double in the fifth inning put host Detroit ahead, and Doug Fister pitched eight impressive innings in a victory that sent Philadelphia to its season-worst sixth straight loss.