published Sunday, August 17th, 2014, updated Aug. 18th, 2014 at midnight

Upton's 2-run HR helps Braves top Lester, A's 4-3

Atlanta Braves' Chris Johnson (23) hits a solo home run in front of Oakland Athletics catcher Derek Norris during their game Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, in Atlanta.
Atlanta Braves' Chris Johnson (23) hits a solo home run in front of Oakland Athletics catcher Derek Norris during their game Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, in Atlanta.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

ATLANTA — Mike Minor needed a reason to believe he could work his way back to his 2013 form.

Beating Jon Lester could provide that confidence boost.

Minor pitched seven strong innings, Justin Upton and Chris Johnson homered and the Atlanta Braves beat the reeling Oakland Athletics 4-3 on Sunday night, ending Lester's seven-game winning streak.

"That's Mike Minor of old right there," Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman said.

The Braves swept the three-game series, leaving the A's with a five-game losing streak, their longest of the season. The A's have lost seven of eight overall and trail the Angels, who lost to Texas on Sunday, by percentage points in the AL West.

"This is really the first bad road trip we've had this year," manager Bob Melvin said. "This was not a good trip. So we've got to get home and we've got to regroup. It will be good to get home in front of our crowd. They're usually good for us."

Minor (5-8), who entered with a 5.33 ERA, allowed two runs in a performance reminiscent of last season, when he was 13-9 with a 3.21 ERA.

"We're going to need him rolling to get us where we're going to go," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

Oakland's Nate Freiman hit two homers, giving him three in the series, but Minor allowed only two other hits.

"I feel like I'm in a different mindset," Minor said after his second straight quality start.

Craig Kimbrel worked a perfect ninth for his 37th save.

Lester (13-8) allowed four runs, three earned, and six hits in six-plus innings in his first loss since June 7 for the Red Sox at Detroit. He had been 3-0 with a 2.49 ERA in three starts since his July 31 trade to the A's.

Upton hit four homers in the 10-game homestand, including two against the A's. He has hit 16 of his 23 homers at Turner Field.

Freiman led off the second inning with a drive that landed several rows beyond the center-field wall.

The Braves tied it in the bottom half. After Upton singled, Johnson lined to third baseman Josh Donaldson, who threw to first base in an attempt for a double play. The throw hit Upton and rolled into the Atlanta dugout, and Upton was awarded third base. Evan Gattis followed with a run-scoring single to right field.

Phil Gosselin led off the Atlanta fourth with a single to right field. With one out, Upton drove a low, inside pitch from Lester about 10 rows deep into the left-field seats for a 3-1 lead.

"I thought it was a good pitch when I threw it," Lester said. "I went back and looked at it and, good pitch. So sometimes you've got to tip your hat."

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