ATLANTA -- Mike Minor had already dressed and turned to talk with the media when his new teammates saluted his first big league win.
How 'bout a beer shower, rookie?If Minor and the Braves keep this up, it won't be the last time they're getting doused.Little-used Diory Hernandez sparked Atlanta with a pinch-hit homer, All-Star Martin Prado returned from the disabled list with three hits and Minor claimed his first big league win, 10-2 over the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night.Minor (1-0) was rewarded with four cans of beers poured on his head, delivered by Derek Lowe, Brooks Conrad, David Ross and Billy Wagner."That's OK," Minor said. "Hopefully there will be more of these to come. Hopefully I can get some other guys down the road."Atlanta maintained its 2 1/2-game lead in the NL East on Philadelphia, which defeated San Francisco 9-3.Coming off their majors-best 20th victory on the final swing, the Braves didn't need any dramatics in the opener of a series against the lowly Nationals. Still, in keeping with the theme of a surprising season, some unlikely players contributed to Atlanta's sixth win in seven games.Like Hernandez, who had batted only twice since coming up from the minors on Aug. 2. With the Braves trailing 2-0, he led off the sixth batting for Minor and came through with his second career homer.Like Matt Diaz, who had a two-run double that put the Braves ahead for good while making a rare appearance in the cleanup spot.Like Minor, the Braves' first-round pick last year but only pitching in the majors this soon because Kris Medlen went down with a season-ending injury."It's been a year like that," Diaz said. "It's a different guy every night. It's got that feel" like something special is happening.Now, if the fans of Atlanta would only take notice. Even with the Braves contending for their first playoff appearance since 2005, just 16,911 turned out at Turner Field -- by the far the smallest home crowd of the season.Minor pitched well in his second career start but was trailing when he left, having surrendered two runs to the Nationals in the sixth to ruin a scoreless duel."I was really upset," he said. "I felt like I pitched OK, but those two runs killed me."He wasn't upset for long. Hernandez's second career homer -- and first hit in the majors this season -- seemed to rattle Scott Olsen (3-5). He gave up just one hit over the first five innings, but didn't get an out in the sixth.Omar Infante tripled to the gap in right-center and Jason Heyward walked, prompting manager Jim Riggleman to call in right-hander Joel Peralta. That move backfired when Prado, who had been on the DL since breaking his right pinky on a slide July 30, doubled into the right-field corner to bring home the tying run.Diaz, hitting cleanup even with a .232 average and just five homers, followed with another double into the left-field corner to bring home both runners. Olsen was charged with three runs and blew off reporters after the game, apparently upset about getting yanked so soon by Riggleman."I thought our only chance to get out of the inning was to put a right-hander on Prado and Diaz," the manager said. "It wasn't going the way we wanted it to go. As good as [Olsen] had been, it got away from him real quickly."The Braves blew it open with four more runs in the seventh, taking advantage of two Washington errors and a botched grounder that was charitably scored a hit. Prado picked up his second RBI with a single and Melky Cabrera blooped a two-run double to short left field.The Nationals grabbed their short-lived lead with a pair of clutch hits off Minor. With two outs, Wil Nieves lined a double just inside the third-base bag to put the Nationals ahead, and Mike Morse extended the lead with a double to the gap in left-center.Nieves was only in the game because Ivan Rodriguez never got a chance to put on his catching gear.Pudge was ejected in the top of the first, apparently for slamming his bat over a disputed strikeout that left two runners stranded.
The Braves signed 37 of their 51 picks in the amateur draft before Monday's midnight deadline, including the top 17. ... Washington RHP Jason Marquis will make his next start Friday at Philadelphia, despite an 0-5 record and 14.33 ERA. Stephen Strasburg will pitch Saturday against the Phillies. ... Diaz was batting cleanup for the sixth time this season. ... The Braves batted around in both the sixth and the seventh innings.