MINNEAPOLIS — Brooks Conrad filled in neatly for Chipper Jones, making two nice plays at third base and then driving in the go-ahead run with a squeeze bunt in the ninth inning Saturday night that lifted the Atlanta Braves over Minnesota 3-2.
Conrad also hit an RBI double. He was put into the Braves' lineup about a half-hour before the game — no reason was given for Jones' absence, though the slumping star missed five games last week with inflammation in his right ring finger.
Matt Guerrier (1-2) walked Gregor Blanco with one out in the Atlanta ninth and gave up a single to Martin Prado. Jose Mijares entered the game, and Conrad dropped down a perfect bunt that the Twins reliever picked up and bobbled but had no play.
Billy Wagner got the save in the bottom of the inning, his 11th in 13 attempts this season.
Buoyed by a strikeout-caught-stealing double play to end the sixth after Joe Mauer's RBI double tied the game at 2, Braves starter Derek Lowe lasted one out into the eighth. The Twins loaded the bases, but Jason Kubel — a career .400 hitter with the bags full — struck out against the fourth pitcher of the inning Jonny Venters (2-0).
Conrad twice made difficult off-balance throws to get the Twins on grounders down the line. His two-out double against Nick Blackburn in the fifth put the Braves ahead 2-1.
Blackburn left a changeup for Melky Cabrera to drive into the right-field seats, and the back-to-back doubles later in the fifth by Prado and Conrad were hit especially hard. But Blackburn finished seven innings with only two runs across and struck out a season-high five, giving him 22 for the year.