Minor held Colorado hitless for six innings, Craig Kimbrel earned the first four-out save of his career and the Atlanta Braves beat the Rockies 1-0 on Wednesday night.
“I kind of just dodged them, I guess,” he said. “To me, it wasn’t one of my best starts, but on paper it looks good.”
Minor (8-10) lost a no-hit bid in the seventh when Jordan Pacheco led off with a single. Pacheco stole second, but was stranded when Minor struck out Ramon Hernandez swinging, Chris Nelson on a foul tip and Andrew Brown looking.
Minor allowed one hit, four walks and struck out seven. The left-hander threw 63 of 108 pitches for strikes. He left the game when Tyler Pastornicky pinch-hit for him in the seventh.
Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez thought Minor did a fine job in holding Colorado, which began the night second in the NL with a .272 batting average, hitless through six innings.
“They’re not schleppers out there, and we’ve had some pretty good ball games pitched against them, with Tommy (Hanson) and Mike Minor and obviously (Kris) Medlen,” Gonzalez said. “They swing the bats. They scare you a little bit.”
The Braves made it 1-0 in the fourth off Alex White (2-8) when Chipper Jones led off with a single, moved to second when Freddie Freeman walked and scored when shortstop Josh Rutledge threw errantly to first after recording one out on Brian McCann’s fielder’s choice grounder.
Atlanta began the night with a two-game lead over St. Louis and a 3½-game lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL wild-card race. The Braves had lost 11 of 17.
Jose Constanza drew a leadoff walk in the seventh for Atlanta off Matt Ottavino, stole second and moved to third on Pastornicky’s sacrifice bunt. Matt Reynolds and William Harris got the last two outs with strikeouts of Michael Bourn and Martin Prado.
White, who was facing the Braves for the first time in his career, allowed two hits, one unearned run and four walks with no strikeouts in four innings.
Atlanta continued to struggle offensively despite second baseman Dan Uggla and McCann returning to the lineup. Uggla was benched the last three games with a .208 batting average, and McCann missed the last three games after taking a cortisone shot in his right shoulder.
Uggla and McCann combined to go 0-for-7. The Nos. 2-4 hitters — Prado, Jason Heyward and Jones — each left three runners on base, but the Braves did manage to improve to 6-40 this year when scoring two or fewer runs.
Atlanta had lost 11 of 17 when scoring two runs or less.
Harris pitched the final 1 1/3 innings for Colorado, helping the Rockies’ bullpen run their streak to 15 consecutive scoreless innings in the four-game series.
Facing Eric O’Flaherty in the eighth, Dexter Fowler walked with one out and advanced to third on Rutledge’s single. After O’Flaherty struck out Carlos Gonzalez and Rutledge stole second off Kimbrel, the Atlanta closer struck out Pacheco to end the threat.
For Rockies manager Jim Tracy, Gonzalez’s strikeout was a turning point.
“I thought we sent the best hitter we have in that clubhouse, and he ended up striking him out,” Tracy said. “We got some people on base, but when you get them on and your opportunity is there, with the way the game is unfolding and the way the other side is pitching, you have to seize the opportunity.”
Kimbrel earned his 32nd save in 35 chances. In the ninth, he struck out Hernandez and pinch-hitter Tyler Colvin. After pinch-hitter Jason Giambi walked, Wilin Rosario struck out to end the game.
“I’ve been wanting to do that all year,” Kimbrel said of his four-out appearance. “It’s definitely a little different. It’s definitely something I want to do again.”
Minor, who singled in the second, improved to 2-3 with a 2.98 ERA in his last seven starts. In his first career start against Colorado on May 5 in Denver, Minor allowed 10 hits and eight runs but received no-decision in the Braves’ 13-9 win.
“My walks didn’t hurt me this time, and I didn’t give up a home run,” Minor said. “That’s always good.”
NOTES: Pacheco pushed his hitting streak to 14 games, during which he’s hitting .365 with two homers and eight RBIs. .... Constanza, who won the International League batting title with a .314 average, went 0-for-1 with two walks. ... Foley’s New York Pub & Restaurant will honor Jones by renaming itself Chipper’s from Sept. 7-9 — when the Braves visit New York for the last time this season — and serve 10 types of chips. ... Jones, who is retiring after the season, went 1-for-3 and needs one hit to tie Bill Buckner for 60th place on the career list with 2,715.