It wasn’t exactly redemption, but it would have to do.
The Braves hosted the Cardinals on Friday night, without the drama of a one-game Wild Card playoff and an infield fly called 225 feet from home plate to rile up the masses, but they walked away 4-1 winners over the team with the best record in baseball in front of a packed house.
A sellout crowd of 50,124 — only the third sellout of the season at Turner Field — showed up to see the Braves take on the Cardinals for the first time since the fateful night in October, a 6-3 loss.
Fans watched Mike Minor not only outduel Cardinals ace and Georgia native Adam Wainwright, he drove in the go-ahead run off him as well. Minor lined an RBI single to left field with two outs in the second inning to put the Braves up 2-1 with their fourth and most improbable hit of the inning. He got to the plate with two outs after Jose Constanza beat out a potential double-play grounder to extend the inning.
Perhaps Minor was paying a little homage to the ailing Tim Hudson, the decent-hitting Braves pitcher who underwent season-ending ankle surgery Friday afternoon. Minor’s two-out single gave him five RBIs on the season, the most on the Braves’ starting staff.
More important, Minor showed a little of what he could do to lead a Braves staff that will have to go without its veteran leader the rest of the way.
Minor went right after hitters in one of the more dominant lineups in baseball — the Cardinals came in leading the National League in runs, batting average and on-base percentage. Minor scattered four hits over seven innings, allowing only one run on a Yadier Molina solo home run. He walked none and struck out five.
At one point he retired 10 batters in a row on his way to becoming the first Braves pitcher to reach 10 wins on the season. Craig Kimbrel pitched around a one-out walk in the ninth to reach 29 saves on the season after Jordan Walden pitched a perfect eighth.
Hudson apparently enjoyed it all from his hospital bed, where his wife, Kim, tweeted that he was an entertaining fan, cheering on the Braves under the influence of pain medication.
Minor, 10-5 with a 2.89 ERA, pitched around a Pete Kozma leadoff double in the third inning and didn’t give up another base runner until Matt Carpenter doubled past third base in the sixth inning. Minor promptly stranded Carpenter at second on ground outs by Shane Robinson and Carlos Beltran.
The Braves faced Wainwright for the first time since May 5, 2012, in St. Louis when he walked five batters in his seventh start back from Tommy John surgery. The Braves got a much sharper version Friday night, as Wainwright gave up four hits in the second inning, but only three more in his other five innings. He struck out eight, including four batters in a row at one point. He gave up four runs, but one was unearned on a Kozma throwing error.
After winning each of his first six starts against the Braves — the team that drafted him in the first round in 2000 before trading him as a minor leaguer for J.D. Drew — Wainwright had to settle for his second loss in a row. Friday was the second time the Braves had scored more than three runs in a start off him.
The Cardinals jumped to a 1-0 lead on Molina’s homer in the second inning, but the Braves answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning and watched Jason Heyward add an opposite-field solo home run in the fifth.
The Braves haven’t been able to acquire the ace they might have wanted for the top of their rotation, but they secured the depth they needed Monday with the signing of free agent right-hander Gavin Floyd.
One week after the Braves were eliminated by the Dodgers in a four-game division series, Braves general manager Frank Wren met with the team’s beat writers and discussed the 2013 season and the team’s needs going into the offseason.