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Minor pitches better in Braves' victory

ATLANTA -- Mike Minor had pitched so poorly lately that Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez asked him if he was hurt.

The left-hander said that he was not hurt, and Sunday against the San Diego Padres, he pitched as if his shoulder issues from the spring were truly a thing of the past.

Minor worked effectively into the seventh inning, and the Braves backed him with a six-run third inning en route to an 8-3 victory over the Padres before 31,456 at Turner Field.

"It felt good to get a win and go (into the seventh) inning rather than the three or four I've been going," Minor said. "I've been kind of shying away from contact. I wanted to go out there and attack hitters. Make them earn it."

Minor (4-6) gave up two bases-empty homers, but the only other run charged to him scored after he left the game. He allowed eight hits, struck out six and walked one in 6 2/3 innings.

"I thought it was better than a quality start and we'll go forward from there," Gonzalez said.

The key was Minor's ability to repeat his delivery almost flawlessly.

"His arm action and his delivery was there ...90 percent of the time," Gonzalez said. "He was able to command his fastball both sides of the plate and that was because of the delivery."

The Braves (57-48) remain 1 1/2 games behind first-place Washington in the National League East. The Nationals (57-45) won 4-2 at Cincinnati.

Center fielder B.J. Upton had two singles, stole a base and scored two times as the Braves went 6-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

"We were able to keep the line moving, especial in that third inning," Gonzalez said.

Padres starter Eric Stults (3-13) outpitched Minor except for one ultra-bad inning.

"It's frustrating to feel like you threw the ball well, but the results didn't really show it," Stults said.

All six of the Braves' hits off the left-hander and one of the two walks came in the six-run third inning. Thanks to a caught stealing, Stults faced the minimum 15 batters over his other five innings. He struck out five.

"Four of those hits were executed pitches in my mind," Stults said of his bad inning.

San Diego took an early lead when second baseman Yangervis Solarte lofted a slider from Minor into the left-field seats leading off the third inning for his first homer with the Padres. Soon, though, San Diego (46-58) was in a 6-1 hole.

The Braves sent 10 men to the plate in the bottom of the third as Stults gave up three singles, three doubles and a walk. Third baseman Chris Johnson hit a two-run double and Ryan Doumit, giving Jason Heyward a day off in right field, added a two-run single. Both hits came with two outs.

Minor gave up a two-out homer to Padres catcher Rene Rivera on a first-pitch fastball in the sixth inning -- the 16th blast against him this year. However, the solo shot merely cut Atlanta's lead to 6-2.

Minor left after 110 pitches with two outs in the seventh, and Anthony Varvaro gave up an RBI single to first baseman Tommy Medica.

The Braves regained a five-run advantage when left fielder Justin Upton delivered a two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the inning off Blaine Boyer.

NOTES: LHP Jason Lane will be promoted by the Padres from Triple-A El Paso to start Monday's series finale in place of RHP Ian Kennedy, who is dealing with left oblique soreness. Lane, a former outfielder, is 6-8 with a 4.67 ERA in 19 starts for El Paso. He made two relief appearances for the Padres in June. ... Kennedy, who was hurt on a swing Wednesday against the Chicago Cubs, is expected to miss just one start and not need a stint on the disabled list. ... Padres LF Carlos Quentin was scratched and is headed to the disabled list as he continues to battle knee issues. He exited his last two starts early and struck out as a pinch hitter Saturday. ... The gates were opened early so that fans could watch the Hall of Fame ceremonies on Turner Field's video board. Five of the six inductees played for or managed the Braves -- Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and Tony La Russa.