Following a rough outing on Aug. 1 that resulted in Mike Minor's ERA ballooning up to 5.42, the Braves decided to skip the lefty's turn in the rotation. Two starts later, it appears the break proved beneficial.
Minor has fanned 14 and walked three in his past 13 2/3 innings, tallying back-to-back quality starts. The second of those outings saw the southpaw give up only two earned runs in seven innings against the A's on Aug. 17.
"I feel like I'm in a different mindset going out there," Minor said. "I really don't feel like anything bothers me anymore. I just want to go after hitters. When things happen, I want to pick up teammates, because I feel like they pick me up all of the time."
"That's the Mike Minor of old, being able to throw that two-seamer just like [Alex Wood] does to right-handers to freeze them with pitches," Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman said after the A's game. "He was on tonight. He made two mistakes, but thankfully, they were solo shots."
Minor hopes to continue his rebound effort opposite Mat Latos, who aims to halt the Reds' six-game losing streak. The skid began on Aug. 17 when the Rockies snapped a streak of four straight quality starts by Latos, who limited the Rockies to three earned runs on eight hits on 97 pitches in five innings of work.
"It was a grind today," Latos said after that game. "Threw a lot of pitches, more than I'd liked to. I taxed the bullpen, which isn't something I like to do. This game is funny. It's just the way it goes."
Latos has been remarkably consistent since making his season debut June 14 after dealing with arm and knee issues earlier this year, tossing at least five innings in every start, giving up three earned runs or fewer in 11 of 12 outings.
But the Reds need their starters to pitch deeper into games as Mike Leake has been the only starter to last longer than six innings during the losing streak.
Reds: Club fading fast
Cincinnati suffered its sixth consecutive defeat Thursday night, falling six games below .500. The Reds have already lost more games than they did in 2012 and are five defeats away from matching last year's mark.
"Certainly disappointment, frustration and angry that we're not doing better. Angry that we've kind of put ourselves on the outside looking in as far as probability of postseason play," manager Bryan Price said of his club's slide prior to Thursday night's contest. "I don't even like to say it. I'll go into a Jim Mora moment here if we start talking about the playoffs.
"I do think there's frustration you feel collectively that we have a better team. We've had some disappointments along the way. We've had some challenges. We're 10-22 since the All-Star break. It doesn't matter where we would have started. It's not good enough to get us to where we want to go. There's a very strong realization that we have to play better than we have."
Braves: Dominating NL Central
Atlanta has fared quite well against National League Central teams this year, compiling an 18-8 record. Take away the Braves' 2-4 mark against the Cardinals, and the record improves to 16-4.
No non-NL Central team has more victories against members of that division than Atlanta's 18, which leads Washington's 17.
• Justin Upton extended his hitting streak to 12 games Thursday night. He is batting .400 (16-for-40) with four homers and 18 RBIs during the stretch.
• Reds reliever Pedro Villarreal recorded his first Major League hit Thursday night when he singled to right field against Julio Teheran.
Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.