Minor blames wet baseballs for key walk in Braves 6-3 loss to Ma - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Minor blames wet baseballs for key walk in Braves loss to Marlins

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Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Mike Minor tosses the chalk bag in his hand in between pitches in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Wednesday, July 3, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman) Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Mike Minor tosses the chalk bag in his hand in between pitches in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Wednesday, July 3, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

ATLANTA (AP) — Mike Minor blamed the wet baseballs.

Fredi Gonzalez didn't seem to think that excuse explained Minor's big mistake of walking opposing pitcher Ricky Nolasco with two outs in the fifth.

"Two-out walk to the pitcher," Gonzalez said. "If it's not in the rule book, it should be written in the rule book."

After walking Nolasco, Minor gave up a three-run homer to Justin Ruggiano and the Atlanta Braves' four-game winning streak ended with a 6-3 loss to the Miami Marlins on Wednesday night.

The Braves led 2-0 before the walk turned the game on a different course.

"Obviously, it was the biggest change in the game," said Nolasco (5-8), who blocked out trade rumors to allow only two runs on six hits in seven innings.

Minor (8-4) couldn't overcome the key walk. Donovan Solano led off Miami's fifth with a double to right field before advancing to third on a wild pitch. Minor struck out Adeiny Hechavarria and Jeff Mathis before walking Nolasco.

There was steady rain but no delay in the game. The grounds crew made repairs to the mound during the game.

Minor said trying to grip a wet baseball was a factor in his key walk to Nolasco.

"I was trying to throw the ball right down the middle and I walked him," Minor said. "It was some of the balls I was getting back. I really didn't complain about it because both pitchers are pitching in it.

"No matter what ball I got back, it was still wet from being on the side. ... If you don't have a good grip it's hard to throw pitches."

Ruggiano's homer to left field gave the Marlins a 3-2 lead.

Minor and the Braves appeared to be in good position through the early innings.

B.J. Upton led off the third with an infield single and scored on Andrelton Simmons' single to right. Brian McCann pushed the lead to 2-0 by using a golf swing to line a low pitch from Nolasco over the right-field wall with one out in the fourth.

The homer was McCann's eighth of his career off Nolasco.

Nolasco had no walks with seven strikeouts, giving him 1,001 for his career. The 1,000th strikeout came against McCann to end the sixth with a runner on third.

"It's kind of funny the 1,000th K would be against the guy that has given me the most problems throughout my whole career, so at least I can say that," Nolasco said.

Asked about the trade rumors, Nolasco said he's "just trying to block it out as much as I can."

Minor gave up four runs on six hits and three walks in six innings. He has only one win in six starts since posting a 4-0 record and 1.98 ERA in May.

Miami added a run in the sixth when Placido Polanco singled and scored on Hechavarria's double. Jeff Mathis added a two-run double in the eighth.

After Chad Qualls pitched a scoreless eighth, Mike Dunn gave up singles to Freddie Freeman and Dan Uggla in the ninth. Closer Steve Cishek struck out Upton before giving up a run-scoring single to Chris Johnson. Cishek earned his 16th save when Tyler Pastornicky hit a grounder to the mound to end the game.

The Marlins got their first win in five games against the Braves this season and ended an eight-game losing streak in the NL East rivalry, dating to Sept. 19, 2012.

Nolasco improved to 6-10 in his career against Atlanta. He holds the Marlins franchise record with 81 career wins.

"He made his pitches," said Marlins manager Mike Redmond. "It was fun to watch him. I know it wasn't easy, but he battled. That pretty much sums up Ricky."

Each of Ruggiano's 12 homers has come on the road. According to STATS and the SABR Home Run Log, that is tied for the seventh-most consecutive road homers to open a season. The record is 17 by Washington's Goose Goslin in 1926. The Dodgers' James Loney also hit his first 12 homers on the road in 2009.

NOTES: Redmond said 1B Logan Morrison was given a rest because his back was stiff following a collision at first base with Kris Medlen on Tuesday night. ... Braves OF Jordan Schafer hit a groundout to second base as a pinch-hitter in the seventh. He said he can jog but not run on his sore right ankle after fouling a ball off the ankle on June 26. He was limping after a pinch-hit single on Tuesday night. ... Upton said he had no lingering symptoms after leaving Tuesday night's game with left forearm spasms. ... There is a forecast for more rain Thursday night when RHP Henderson Alvarez is scheduled to come off the disabled list and make his 2013 debut against Atlanta's Julio Teheran. Alvarez has been recovering from right shoulder inflammation.

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