ATLANTA — Mike Minor believes he will be sharp in October even though he hasn’t won a start since Aug. 25.
“I don’t think it’s been great, and I think it shows,” he said. “But it’s one of those things that I thought I pitched pretty well all year, but right now I’m kind of struggling a little bit.”
Minor gave up two home runs in the Atlanta Braves’ 5-0 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday night.
The NL East champion Braves began the night with the league’s best record and are one-half game in front of St. Louis Cardinals, who beat Washington 4-3 on Monday. The Los Angeles Dodgers, who did not play Monday, moved two games back.
Atlanta was shut out for the 16th time, second-most in the NL.
Minor (13-8) allowed eight hits and three runs and struck out six in seven innings. The left-hander, whom manager Fredi Gonzalez is considering to start the playoff opener next week, is winless in his past five starts.
“What I like is he gave us every opportunity to win the game,” Gonzalez said. “Seven innings, and you hold the opposition to three runs, you’ve got a pretty good chance.”
Milwaukee led 4-0 in the eighth when Aramis Ramirez, a former Augusta GreenJacket, homered off reliever Anthony Varvaro.
Marco Estrada (7-4) gave up two hits, walked three and struck out six.
“I’d get ahead and once we had two strikes, my goal was just to try and bounce (a changeup) and see if I’d get a swing out of it,” Estrada said.
The hits Estrada allowed were a triple by Andrelton Simmons in the second and single by Justin Upton in the sixth.
Carlos Gomez, Ramirez and Jonathan Lucroy all homered for Milwaukee to back Estrada.
He is 3-0 with a 2.26 ERA, a span of 51⅔ innings since coming off the disabled list.
Gomez gave Milwaukee a 1-0 lead in the first, hitting the first pitch he saw from Minor for his 22nd homer.
The Brewers went up 3-0 in the fifth when Norichika Aoki doubled and scored on Lucroy’s 18th homer.
After Ramirez’s 12th homer in the eighth, Milwaukee took a 5-0 lead when Sean Halton doubled off Varvaro, moved to third on Yuniesky Betancourt’s infield single and scored on shortstop Simmons’ throwing error.
Minor has allowed at least two homers in seven starts this season and is 0-3 with a 5.12 ERA in those outings. He gave up just three homers over an 11-start stretch from June 26-Aug. 25, but has been taken deep seven times in his last five games.
“I think I’m trying to throw more sinkers in and when I throw four-seamers away or try to go back and forth with them, there’s a different release point and I think I’m just leaving the ball up,” Minor said. “They’re big-league hitters, so when they see that, they take advantage of it.”
Home plate umpire Angel Hernandez ejected Gonzalez with two outs in the seventh. With a runner at first, Estrada hit Paul Janish in the left leg with a pitch, but Hernandez ruled that Janish, who leaned into the 89 mph fastball, did not attempt to get out of the way.
Rob Wooten pitched the eighth and Michael Blazek the ninth for Milwaukee.