ST. LOUIS -- There was nothing Minor about how Atlanta avoided a four-game sweep to St. Louis on Sunday.
Mike Minor pitched seven efficient innings and center fielder Jordan Schafer sparked the offense as the Braves dumped the Cardinals 5-2 at sold-out Busch Stadium.
Minor (13-5) scattered six hits, walked one and struck out two in beating St. Louis for the second time in a month. Closer Craig Kimbrel picked up the last four outs to earn his 41st save as Atlanta (78-52) completed its six-game road trip at 2-4.
Lance Lynn (13-8) failed in his fourth attempt for his 14th win, allowing nine hits and four runs in seven innings. Most of the damage occurred early, with Schafer playing a prominent role.
After failing to reach base in his first 13 plate appearances in the series, Schafer led off the first inning with a triple to the right-field corner and scored on Elliot Johnson's single for a 1-0 lead just six pitches into the game.
The Braves made it 3-0 in the second as substitute third baseman Paul Janish knocked in Gerald Laird with an RBI single, followed by Schafer's ground-rule double into the left-field corner that plated Joey Terdoslavich.
Minor gave up his only run in the sixth, when Matt Carpenter led off with a double, moved to third on Carlos Beltran's flyout and scored on Matt Holliday's grounder to first.
Atlanta got that run back in the seventh when Andrelton Simmons lined his 12th homer of the year over the left-field wall. Laird's sacrifice fly to right in the eighth upped the lead to 5-1.
St. Louis (76-54) capped the scoring in its half of the eighth on Allen Craig's RBI single.
The Cardinals fell a half-game back of Pittsburgh in the National League Central, pending the outcome of the Pirates' game in San Francisco.
NOTES: Atlanta scratched 3B Chris Johnson from the lineup with turf toe about 90 minutes before the first pitch. Johnson is second in the National League in batting average at .331, trailing only St. Louis C Yadier Molina. ... Saturday night's victory gave the Cardinals their fourth straight series win, their most in a row since notching six straight back in May. They won or split 14 consecutive series in a span dating from April 29 to June 13. ... St. Louis starts a stretch of 13 straight games Monday night against its Central rivals, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, when the Reds come to town to start a three-game series. The Braves have Monday off before opening a nine-game homestand Tuesday night against Cleveland.