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MIL@COL: Chatwood beats Crew with pitching, hitting

The Braves' offense scored 20 runs in winning the first two games of a four-game series against the Rockies at Turner Field. But on Wednesday, offense might not be easy to come by for either team.

Looking to make it three straight over the Rockies will be Mike Minor, the Braves' new ace with Tim Hudson out for the season. Minor is enjoying his best season in four years with Atlanta, bringing a 10-5 record and 2.89 ERA into the game.

"Mike's been great for us all season," Braves right fielder Jason Heyward said. "He's battled, he's been a great competitor -- I feel like our whole staff has."

Minor, 25, has enjoyed a solid July, and has allowed just six earned runs in his last four starts. The left-hander held opposing hitters to a .204 batting average and sported a 1.91 ERA in 28 1/3 innings during the span.

But Rockies starter Tyler Chatwood is no slouch himself. The 23-year-old right-hander carries a 7-3 record and 2.48 ERA into the game. He also has allowed just six earned runs in his last four starts, good for a 1.95 ERA in 27 2/3 innings.

In seven innings against the Brewers his last time out, Chatwood struck out a career-high 11 while walking none and allowing just two earned runs.

"His breaking ball was filthy," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "His curveball was really sharp, fastball was explosive and down. Got the slider that he's got a lot of confidence in now. So he was really good."

Braves: Cunningham singles in first at-bat
The Braves placed Reed Johnson on the disabled list on Monday with tendinitis in his right Achilles and in a corresponding move promoted Todd Cunningham from Triple-A Gwinnett.

Cunningham, who hit .279 with 18 stolen bases and a .709 OPS in 99 games with Gwinnett, singled in his first Major League at-bat, pinch-hitting for starter Alex Wood in the seventh inning. He is capable of playing each of the three outfield positions.

"He's one of those guys who is a solid baseball player who the more you watch, the more you appreciate," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

• Gonzalez said Tuesday that outfielders B.J. Upton and Jordan Schafer are closing in on returns from the DL.

Upton, who has been sidelined since June 12 with a strained right adductor muscle, is scheduled to play at least three games with Gwinnett starting Wednesday and could be activated as early as Saturday. Schafer, who has been out since July 3 with a stress fracture in his right foot, could begin his rehab stint with Gwinnett on Saturday and rejoin the Braves at some point next week.

With Johnson missing at least another two weeks on the DL, Gonzalez poked a little fun at his outfield situation.

"The major league outfield is getting ready to go play in Gwinnett, and the Gwinnett outfield is playing here in the big leagues," Gonzalez said.

Joey Terdoslavich, Jose Constanza and Cunningham have each been promoted from Gwinnett to play the outfield for Atlanta dating back to July 4.

Rockies: Oswalt nearing Minor League rehab start
Roy Oswalt threw a bullpen session on Tuesday and said he will throw a simulated game on Friday in Pittsburgh before making a Minor League rehab start.

Oswalt, who has been on the DL since July 8 with a left hamstring strain, used all his pitches in his 36-pitch bullpen session and said he does not want to make more than one start in the Minors before returning, but that depends on how he feels.

Oswalt did not attend Spring Training and signed after the season started because he didn't receive offseason offers. A former All-Star and Cy Young Award candidate, Oswalt believes he has a future as a starter.

He will have to prove himself after a rusty start before the injury. In four starts he went 0-4 with a 7.64 ERA.

"I want to help this team," Oswalt said. "I wasn't doing too well at first, then I got hurt. But I still believe I can pitch well for this team."

Worth noting
• Chatwood and Minor each have an ERA over five for their careers against the opposite team. Chatwood has a 5.63 ERA in three starts and Minor is 5.50 in three starts.

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