ATLANTA (AP) — Justin Upton hit a two-run homer, Chris Johnson also went deep and the Atlanta Braves beat Jon Lester and the reeling Oakland Athletics 4-3 on Sunday night, ending Lester’s seven-game winning streak.
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.
Oakland’s Nate Freiman hit two homers, giving him three in the series, but Mike Minor (5-8) allowed only two other hits in seven strong innings. 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, giving Atlanta a 3-1 lead.
Freiman cut the lead to one run with his seventh-inning homer to left. Johnson’s ninth homer in the bottom of the inning pushed the lead back to two runs.
Pinch-hitter Sam Fuld led off the eighth with a double to center off right-hander Anthony Vavaro. B.J. Upton overran the ball in center for an error as Fuld advanced to third. Fuld scored on Coco Crisp’s fly ball to left field.
Oakland’s Jonny Gomes raced to second with one out in the sixth when rookie second baseman Gosselin dropped his pop fly in shallow right field for an error. Donaldson and Derek Norris then looked at called third strikes to end the inning.
Athletics: CF Craig Gentry, on the 15-day disabled list with a broken right hand, is ready to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento.
Braves: Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said RHP Shae Simmons (strained right shoulder) will make a second rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett on Monday after throwing 10 pitches without a problem on Saturday.
Athletics: After an off day on Monday, the A’s take on another NL East team when they open a two-game series at the New York Mets on Tuesday night. Scott Kazmir (13-5), who already has matched his career high in wins, will start for Oakland.
Braves: After completing their 10-game homestand, the Braves open a series at Pittsburgh on Monday night as RHP Ervin Santana goes for his 13th win. Santana (12-6) leads the Braves in wins.