---- — ST. LOUIS (AP) — After a rough beginning, Lance Lynn settled down and kept the Cardinals in the game. They just couldn't come up with enough offense to beat the Braves.
The struggling St. Louis right-hander overcame a slow start and allowed just one run in his final five innings in the Cardinals' 5-2 loss to Atlanta on Sunday.
Lynn, who is winless in his last four starts and 2-4 since the All-Star break, surrendered four runs on nine hits over seven innings in falling to 13-8.
"They got after me pretty good early in the game, but I was able to turn it around and go deep in the game," Lynn said. "I think I threw the ball well for the most part."
Lynn had been burned by one bad inning in each of his previous three starts. He gave up five runs in the fourth against Milwaukee, four in the second against Pittsburgh and three in the seventh against the Cubs.
He avoided the blow-up frame on Sunday and feels he is headed in the right direction.
"Hopefully for me, this was a building (block) going down the stretch," he said. "I've got some starts coming up where I've got to be really good.
And I plan on being really good."
Lynn faced just three batters in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings against the Braves.
"He needed to slow down a bit," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "But once he established that, they seemed to have different at-bats against him."
Atlanta right-hander Mike Minor went seven strong innings to pick up his team-leading 13th win.
Still, Minor refuses to accept the role of stopper on his pitching-rich squad.
"I don't look at myself as the ace of this team," he said.
Atlanta, which has the best record in the NL, salvaged the final game of the four-game set. Andrelton Simmons hit his 12th homer of the season for Braves, who finish a six-game road trip at 2-4.
St. Louis had a four-game winning streak snapped.
Minor may not claim to be the team ace - but he certainly performed like one on Sunday, halting a three-game losing streak.
He bounced back from the shortest outing of his career to give up one run on six hits. He struck out two and walked one. He was pitching on seven days rest after allowing four runs in 1 2-3 innings against Washington on Aug. 17.
"I felt like I was pounding the zone, hitting more spots," Minor said.
Minor did not allow a run until the sixth. He retired the side in order twice in the first five frames.
"He's developing into a big-time deal," Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez. "The Wainwrights of the world, the Kershaws of the world, they stop losing streaks and extend winning streaks.
He's becoming one of those guys."
Minor also beat the Cardinals 4-1 on July 26, starting the Braves on a 14-game winning streak.
"He was sharp today, he didn't give us a lot of mistakes to handle," Matheny said. "And he got out of any kind of jams that he got himself into."
Minor, who also legged out an infield hit in the seventh, recorded his team-high 19th quality start.
The win gave Minor a team-leading 13th win of the season ahead of Kris Medlen and Julio Teheran, who have 10 wins each.
Simmons paced the attack with a solo shot in the seventh that gave the Braves a 4-1 lead.
Closer Craig Kimbrel came on with two out in the eighth and picked up his 41st save in 44 opportunities. It was his first four-out save of the season. a trend that may continue in October.
"We may have to do that come post-season," Gonzalez said. "It was perfect timing. He hasn't pitched in three days, with a day off tomorrow, it made a lot of sense to push him and he came through."
Kimbrel enjoyed the extra work. He also liked sitting the dugout for a change between the eighth and ninth innings.
"I found myself talking and joking around," he said. "Then I said, "Wait I've got three more outs to get. But I was able to get back out there and get in the zone."
Notes: Minor is 6-5 in 17 starts with over six days rest. ... The Cardinals will play their next 13 games NL Central rivals Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. ... Atlanta opens a nine-game homestand on Tuesday with a three-game series against Cleveland. LHP Alex Wood (2-2, 2.50) will face Danny Salazar (1-1, 3.52) in the opener. St. Louis plays host to Cincinnati on Monday in the start of a three-game series. Tyler Lyons (2-4, 5.09) takes on Mike Leake (11-5, 3.12). ... Atlanta is 7-7 since ending a 14-game winning streak on Aug. 10.