The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

April 18, 2013

Bats cooled in duel, Braves' streak snapped

(Continued)

The Braves have scored at least six runs in half of their first 14 games this year. But they have been outscored by a combined 3-0 tally while suffering both of their losses in shutout fashion.

Jeff Francoeur's two-out, fourth-inning single proved to be enough for the Royals to hand Mike Minor just his second loss in a span of 10 starts dating back to Aug. 25. Minor, who has compiled a 2.00 ERA in his past 18 starts, was charged with the one earned run and five hits in six innings.

Minor retired the first six batters he faced and limited the Royals to one hit through the first three innings. But his outing was tarnished in the fourth, when he surrendered three singles and catcher Evan Gattis' indecisive reaction to Alcides Escobar's return to first base proved costly.

After opening the fourth with a single, Escobar aborted his attempt to steal second base and started to return toward the first-base bag. But instead of making an immediate throw to first that would have either retired Escobar or resulted in a rundown, Gattis hesitated, giving Escobar a chance to get back to the bag safely.

Gattis has impressed both defensively and offensively, hitting four home runs in the first 42 at-bats of his Major League career. But this was just the 10th start behind the plate for the 26-year-old rookie catcher, who is seemingly bound to endure growing pains.

"We talked about it in the dugout," Gonzalez said. "He's got to give it up a little bit sooner than he did. That's part of learning the speed of the game up here in the big leagues. That's a learning moment for him."

Lorenzo Cain and Francoeur notched consecutive two-out singles to plate Escobar with the game's only run.

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