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Braves 4, A's 3

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: Aug 17 2014 07:14:57 PM AKDT
Updated On: Aug 17 2014 07:14:58 PM AKDT

ATLANTA -- Things are going so badly for the Oakland Athletics that they can't even win when Jon Lester is pitching.

Justin Upton and Chris Johnson backed Mike Minor with home runs, and the Atlanta Braves completed a three-game interleague sweep with a 4-3 victory over Oakland on Sunday night at Turner Field.

The A's (73-51) completed a 1-6 road trip with their fifth consecutive loss and fell into a tie for first place with the Los Angeles Angels in the American League West. Oakland led by four games at the start of the trip.

Minor (5-8) allowed just four hits over seven innings, the only damage against him two bases-empty homers by A's first baseman Nate Freiman. The Atlanta left-hander struck out seven and walked two.

Craig Kimbrel pitched a perfect ninth inning, striking out two, to record his 37th save in 41 chances.

The Braves (64-60) went 6-4 on their homestand after a 0-8 road trip. They are six games behind the Washington Nationals in the National League East, and they are 1 1/2 games behind the San Francisco Giants in the race for the second NL wild-card spot.

Lester, who won his first three starts after being acquired from Boston, lasted six-plus innings Sunday and was charged with four runs, three of which were earned. Lester (13-8) gave up six hits, struck out five and walked one.

Minor was dropped from the rotation for a turn after posting a 7.33 ERA over 10 starts, but made a solid return Tuesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers despite taking a loss.

Frieman had his first multi-homer game, and three of his four blasts for the season came in the series. His homer in the seventh inning came on a 3-1 slider from Minor, who has allowed 20 round-trippers in 24 starts this season.

Third baseman Johnson got the run back with a blast of his own leading off the bottom of the inning. He picked on a 2-1 cutter from Lester and sent a drive into the left field seats for his ninth homer of the season.

The A's, though, made it a one-run came again in the eighth. Center fielder B.J. Upton misplayed Sam Fuld's leadoff double against reliever Anthony Varvaro, and the pinch hitter scored on center fielder Coco Crisp's sacrifice fly.

Freiman, who had spent most the season with Triple-A Sacramento, put Oakland ahead in the second inning. His mammoth blast to center field, which was estimated at 450 feet, came on a 3-2 fastball.

The Braves quickly tied it with a gift run in the bottom of the inning. Third baseman Josh Donaldson's throw trying for a double play hit Justin Upton, who had singled, and rolled into the Atlanta dugout for a two-base error. Catcher Evan Gattis followed with an RBI single.

Justin Upton connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning to put the Braves ahead. Lester left an 0-2 cutter over the plate, and the left fielder deposited a no-doubt line smash over the fence in left-center field for his 23rd home run. Second baseman Phil Gosselin singled leading off the inning.

NOTES: The game was the Athletics' first on ESPN's Sunday night telecast since 2006. They will be back on again next Sunday, though, in a home game against the Los Angeles Angels. ... This was the Braves' third Sunday night home game this season and second in a row. ... The Braves open a 10-game road trip with three in Pittsburgh starting Monday night. ... The A's are off Monday before a two-game interleague series at home against the New York Mets. ... Braves rookie INF Phil Gosselin got his third straight start as manager Fredi Gonzalez stuck with a hot bat. Gosselin was 2-for-4 in each of the first two games of the series and hit his first major league homer on Friday.