ATLANTA — Mike Minor had a 6.26 ERA during spring training. But in his first regular-season start, he looked just like the dominant pitcher who ended 2012.
“With spring training not going as well, I still had that confidence,” Minor said. “I guess that was a big part of it tonight.”
Minor pitched into the eighth inning and Justin Upton hit his third homer in four games to help the Atlanta Braves beat the Chicago Cubs 4-1 on Friday night.
Juan Francisco had a two-run single and Minor (1-0) won his first start of the season, allowing one run and five hits in 71/3 innings. He walked none and struck out seven.
Eric O’Flaherty got two outs in the eighth and Craig Kimbrel threw eight pitches in a perfect ninth for his second save.
Making his Cubs debut, Scott Feldman (0-1) threw two wild pitches, hit a batter and had a fielding error in the fourth when he missed the bag in an attempt to cover first base.
Feldman gave up four runs, five hits and four walks in 42/3 innings. He struck out one.
Upton’s shot gave the Braves a 1-0 lead in the first. His sacrifice fly in the third drove in Andrelton Simmons to make it 2-0.
“It’s even fun to see him hit in the cage,” Simmons said. “You just watch and try to pick up stuff from him. He’s really talented, and he has a nice swing. Everything is nice and smooth. He’s going to do this all year.”
Feldman could only blame himself for the second run. He issued a leadoff walk to Simmons, who stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch.
“I had a little trouble with my command tonight,” Feldman said, “and they got into some deep counts and made me throw a lot of pitches.”
Minor’s one costly mistake came when Scott Hairston led off the fifth with a homer, his first, to make it 2-1.
Since September of last year, Minor is 5-0 with a 0.94 ERA in six starts.