ATLANTA — Mike Minor needed a reason to believe he could work his way back to his 2013 form.
Beating Jon Lester could provide that confidence boost.
Minor pitched seven strong innings, Justin Upton and Chris Johnson homered and the Atlanta Braves beat the reeling Oakland Athletics 4-3 on Sunday night, ending Lester’s seven-game winning streak.
“That’s Mike Minor of old right there,” Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman said.
The Braves swept the three-game series, leaving the A’s with a five-game losing streak, their longest of the season. The A’s have lost seven of eight overall and trail the Angels, who lost to Texas on Sunday, by percentage points in the AL West.
“This is really the first bad road trip we’ve had this year,” manager Bob Melvin said. “This was not a good trip. So we’ve got to get home and we’ve got to regroup. It will be good to get home in front of our crowd. They’re usually good for us.”
Minor (5-8), who entered with a 5.33 ERA, allowed two runs in a performance reminiscent of last season, when he was 13-9 with a 3.21 ERA.
Oakland’s Nate Freiman hit two homers, giving him three in the series, but Minor allowed only two other hits. Lester (13-8) allowed four runs, three earned, and six hits in six-plus innings in his first loss since June 7 for the Red Sox at Detroit. He had been 3-0 with a 2.49 ERA in three starts since his July 31 trade to the A’s. Freiman led off the second inning with a drive that landed several rows beyond the center-field wall.