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Braves allow 5 in 8th to Blue Jays, fall out of 1st

Minter has shaky outing as Toronto takes advantage of errors
MLB.com @mlbbowman

ATLANTA -- Braves manager Brian Snitker has two closers and the willingness to mix and match them in a manner that sets A.J. Minter up to face the tougher part of an opponent's lineup.

With Arodys Vizcaino a week removed from the disabled list and Minter in the midst of a dominant run, this is the sensible approach. But it's certainly not a foolproof one as the Braves were hindered by a couple of errors during the decisive five-run eighth inning of Tuesday night's 6-2 loss to the Blue Jays at SunTrust Park.

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ATLANTA -- Braves manager Brian Snitker has two closers and the willingness to mix and match them in a manner that sets A.J. Minter up to face the tougher part of an opponent's lineup.

With Arodys Vizcaino a week removed from the disabled list and Minter in the midst of a dominant run, this is the sensible approach. But it's certainly not a foolproof one as the Braves were hindered by a couple of errors during the decisive five-run eighth inning of Tuesday night's 6-2 loss to the Blue Jays at SunTrust Park.

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"I was going to use Viz to close it out," Snitker said. "It was kind of set up good for us. Minter has not been a matchup guy all year, and he won't be. His stuff is too good. It was just one of those games."

Video: TOR@ATL: Suzuki plates Albies with a single to left

This was not necessarily good timing for Minter to endure what might have been the most frustrating outing of his young career. The Braves have now lost six of their past seven games, and they are out of first place in the National League East for the first time since June 11.

Julio Teheran counted Justin Smoak's solo homer as the only run surrendered over 6 2/3 innings, and Kurt Suzuki erased Atlanta's deficit in the sixth with a two-out RBI single off Marcus Stroman, who produced one of his best starts of what has been a frustrating season. Thoughts of the Braves staging yet another thrilling finish were thwarted by the Blue Jays, who have tallied a five-run frame in the seventh inning or later five times this season and three times this month.

With the game tied and the heart of the Blue Jays' lineup due up in the eighth, it made sense for the Braves to hand the ball to Minter, who had surrendered just three hits while holding opponents scoreless over his past 8 1/3 innings. But the plan to hold Vizcaino for the ninth began to unravel as Yangervis Solarte reached on Dansby Swanson's fielding error and advanced to second base on an errant pickoff move.

Video: TOR@ATL: Suzuki plates Albies with a groundout

After Randal Grichuk's one-out single put runners at the corners, Russell Martin and Kevin Pillar chased Minter with consecutive RBI singles that gave the Blue Jays a 3-1 lead. Aledmys Diaz and Devon Travis then greeted Shane Carle with consecutive doubles.

"You've got to move on from it," Minter said. "Balls are going to be hit to people, and some days balls aren't going to be hit to people. You've got to forget about it and come back tomorrow."

Video: TOR@ATL: Pillar brings home Grichuk with an RBI knock

By the time the barrage concluded, Minter had allowed four runs -- three earned -- and three hits while recording just one out. The 24-year-old southpaw had allowed as many as three hits in just four of his 56 previous appearances, and this marked just the second time he was charged with as many as three earned runs.

"[Minter] is going to give up runs every now and then," Snitker said. "I went back and it had been a while since they had scored on him. It's going to happen."

Before the Braves erased a save situation by tallying three runs in the eighth inning of Saturday's win in Milwaukee, Vizcaino was lined up to face the bottom of the Brewers' lineup in the bottom half of that inning. He got through that frame unscathed and Minter provided a scoreless ninth.

Video: TOR@ATL: Swanson makes a running throw to nab Diaz

Vizcaino would have pitched the ninth inning of this series opener against the Blue Jays. But this was simply one of those nights when pitting the better reliever against the better part of the lineup in the eighth inning simply didn't work.

"You can't worry about the bad performances," Minter said. "You've got to move forward. It's going to happen. I feel bad for Julio because he pitched a good game. That's baseball."

ENCOURAGING TEHERAN
As Teheran labored through a 27-pitch first inning, it looked like he might add to the struggles he had endured while posting an 8.05 ERA over his past 11 starts against American League East opponents. But the veteran found a feel for his slider and used it a season-high 37 times during his 107-pitch effort marred only by Smoak's third-inning solo homer. He induced 11 swing and misses and got four called strikes with this pitch that serves as the most valuable within his arsenal.

Teheran retired 13 of the final 15 batters faced.

"Whenever I have the feel for my slider, I know I'm going to throw it more than 30 times and I'm going to have a good game," Teheran said. "When I don't have my slider, it's a different game. I've got to battle with my fastball and my other pitches. It's hard to pitch without your best pitch."

Video: TOR@ATL: Teheran hurls 6 2/3 innings of 1-run ball

QUIET OFFENSE
Stroman has now been good in three of four starts made since spending six weeks on the disabled list with a sore right shoulder. But the Blue Jays' right-hander might have delivered his finest start of the season as he recorded 14 of 21 outs on the ground and allowed just one run over seven innings. Suzuki scored Ozzie Albies with his sixth-inning single, but he also grounded into a double play after Nick Markakis' single put two on with one out in the fourth. The Braves have gone homerless over a season-long five games, and they have been limited to two runs or less in three of the past six games. Leadoff hitter Ender Inciarte has batted .186 (11-for-59) with a .314 on-base percentage over his past 15 games.

Video: TOR@ATL: Solarte turns an inning-ending double play

SOUND SMART
Most home runs against Teheran since the start of 2015:
Nationals -- 15 (68 IP)
Blue Jays -- 9 (20 1/3 IP)
Phillies -- 8 (82 IP)
Marlins -- 8 (58 2/3 IP)
Dodgers -- 8 (33 2/3 IP)
Padres -- 7 (44 IP)

UP NEXT
Fresh off his first All-Star selection, Mike Foltynewicz will take the mound when the Braves host the Blue Jays on Wednesday at 7:35 p.m. ET. Foltynewicz has allowed more than two earned runs in just two of 17 starts. Eleven of the 25 earned runs charged against him have been tallied within two of the 95 innings he has totaled. Toronto will counter with Sam Gaviglio, who has completed less than five innings in four of his past five starts.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Atlanta Braves, A.J. Minter, Julio Teheran