Braves left-hander Mike Minor was unable to pitch at least six innings only twice in 32 starts in 2013. As he toes the rubber opposite Nationals hurler Stephen Strasburg on Friday, he hopes to end a run of two consecutive starts of fewer than six frames.
One of those two outings last season came against Washington on Aug. 17 at Turner Field. The southpaw surrendered four runs on four hits and four walks in only 1 2/3 innings, although he did keep the ball in the park.
The long ball has proved costly to Minor through nine starts this season. He has surrendered nine homers at a rate of 1.5 every nine innings. Erick Aybar and Mike Trout took Minor deep in his most recent turn on Sunday, the third time this season he's allowed at least two home runs in a game.
"I guess I was lucky enough to hang in there through five with just three runs, two solo shots," Minor said. "The one Trout hit was the worst pitch of the night, just because we know he hits breaking balls in the zone -- sliders from lefties and righties, he hammers them."
Also troubling was that Minor surrendered 11 hits for the second consecutive start. However, after allowing the hit parade to devolve into eight earned runs in four innings at Coors Field on June 10, he limited the Halos to only three earned in five frames.
The southpaw also felt like he was not nearly as off in his last start as he was against the Rockies.
"I looked back at all of the hits and I felt better," Minor said following his outing against Los Angeles. "I felt like I was throwing better than that. I just felt like they were putting good at-bats together on me. They were hitting bad pitches and I was walking guys. It was just one of those games where I felt better than the outcome."
"It's hard to give up only three runs on 11 hits," added Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez. "So he was doing something right. He wasn't giving in."
Meanwhile, Strasburg had an off night by his recent standards on Saturday, allowing three earned runs in 6 2/3 innings against the Cardinals after surrendering three runs total over his past three trips to the hill.
Strasburg has recorded 11 consecutive quality starts dating back to April 20, lowering his ERA from 5.33 to 3.06 during that span. He needs to overcome history to keep the streak going. He is 3-5 with a 3.86 ERA in 13 career starts against Atlanta.
With Thursday's win, the Braves moved within a half-game of the first-place Nats in the National League East.
Nationals: Ramos nearing rehab assignment
Washington has been without catcher Wilson Ramos since he suffered a right hamstring strain while sliding into second base for a double on June 10. Ramos has completed running drills without pain, encouraging the club.
Nationals manager Matt Williams anticipates Ramos beginning a rehab assignment this weekend or Monday. He is eligible to come off the disabled list on Thursday. Jose Lobaton has gone 5-for-18 with two walks in six starts since Ramos went down.
Braves: Injuries and ailments adding up
Thursday was a rough day for Atlanta's health. Justin Upton did not start for a second straight game as he continues to feel light-headed, and the Braves also lost two pitchers.
Reliever Pedro Beato, who was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett to take the spot of reliever David Carpenter on Tuesday, landed on the disabled list with a right biceps strain -- the same injury that sidelined Carpenter.
The biggest injury came in the Braves' 3-0 win over the Nats, as Gavin Floyd suffered a right elbow fracture and is headed to the disabled list. The right-hander will return to Atlanta to be evaluated by the Braves' medical staff on Friday.
• Evan Gattis extended his hitting streak to 18 games by finishing 2-for-5 on Thursday night. His streak is already a franchise record by a catcher and remains the longest active streak in the National League.
• Only Giancarlo Stanton (27) has more plate appearances than Ryan Zimmerman's 25 against Minor. Zimmerman is batting .250 (5-for-20) with five walks and seven strikeouts against the Braves lefty.
• With Thursday's win, the Braves improved to 6-1 this season against the Nationals.
Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.