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MIL@ATL: Minor stymies Brewers to earn the victory

After being roughed up in his season debut, Braves left-hander Mike Minor turned in the best performance of his young career the next time out.

D-backs right-hander Josh Collmenter -- whose Spring Training struggles have continued into the regular season -- is hoping for a similar turnaround in his third start of the season, on Thursday at Chase Field, or else he could be in jeopardy of losing his spot in the rotation.

"He's done it in the past. We have confidence in him," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said earlier this week. "He's had two starts and he didn't have a good spring, but we believe he can do it. He knows how to get guys out."

The problem is, Collmenter hasn't been doing that in 2012. After allowing 21 earned runs in 19 Spring Training innings, he has yet to find his groove. He's lasted only three and four innings, respectively, in his first two starts, giving up five earned runs in each.

The 26-year-old admitted that his struggles are beginning to take a mental toll on him. He said he's thinking too much about his mechanics rather than just throwing the ball. Despite the Braves' hot play as of late -- Atlanta has won of seven of its last eight -- Thursday's date could help Collmenter get back in the flow. The right-hander held Atlanta to just one run in 13 innings in two starts as a rookie.

Whereas Collmenter's mind-set isn't where it needs to be, Minor's certainly is. The 24-year-old lefty turned in the best start of his career his last time out, holding the Brewers to one unearned run on two hits in 7 1/3 innings. It was the first time the 2009 first-round Draft pick pitched into the eighth inning.

"He was really in command of that baseball game," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said afterward. "It's not the same guy."

Braves: Heyward is hot
• Outfielder Jason Heyward has an eight-game hitting streak, during which he's batting .400 with two home runs and four RBIs. He also already has four stolen bases after stealing only nine a year ago.

• The Braves hit just .198 with runners in scoring position in their first 10 games but are batting .455 in such situations in their last two.

D-backs: Lack of outfield depth
With Chris Young (right shoulder contusion) on the 15-day disabled list and Justin Upton (jammed left thumb) unsure if he'll soon be joining his teammate there, the D-backs suddenly are lacking for depth in their outfield. Gibson said that he talked to his mother about how to get through the next few games without two of his top players.

"I talked to my mom today, she's 81, [and] she said, 'You're going to have to deal with it and carry some extra baggage,'" Gibson said. "It's one of those deals [where] you have to move on and find a way. You can't be discouraged. Things happen along the way, and you stand up to that challenge. It's not how we planned it out, but you sign in, and you're either in or out."

Playing in their first game after Young's injury, the D-backs managed just one run in their Wednesday loss to the Pirates. A.J. Pollock was called up from Triple-A Reno and made his Major League debut, starting in place of Young. Pollock was 0-for-3 with a walk, grounding out with the tying runner on first to end the game.

"It's pretty awesome," Pollock said of seeing his name in the lineup. "I was pretty pumped. I'd rather just get thrown into the mix as opposed to the buildup, so I think that's going to help me, and I'll just go out there and try to help the team win. They've got a good team here already, and as long as I'm playing my role and doing my part, then we'll be fine."

Worth noting
• Braves everyday players are hitting a combined .152 against Collmenter.

• Lyle Overbay, one of only three D-backs to face Minor, is 2-for-3 with a double off the lefty.

• Atlanta is 6-1 when it scores four runs or more. Comments