HOUSTON -- Recently acquired shortstop Alex Gonzalez continues to impress manager Bobby Cox with his ability to man the left side of the infield for the Braves.

In Sunday's game against the Giants, Gonzalez turned two key double plays in the first and second innings on the way to a 6-3 win.

"It's amazing what he can do," Cox said. "The double plays that he turned played a big role."

Gonzalez also helped out at the plate where he was 4-for-13 in the series. Two of those hits were homers.

Cox can sympathize with Minor's nerves

HOUSTON -- With starter Mike Minor making his debut Monday for the Braves, manager Bobby Cox remembered the first time he stepped on the field as a Major League player at Yankee Stadium.

Cox had butterflies and he expected Minor to feel the same way.

"It's kind of like football," Cox said. "First time you get hit, that's over. First time you get your first ground ball, that's over with. Then everything's normal."

Cox said he liked what he saw from Minor in Spring Training and said many of his scouts monitored his progress in the Minors this season.

"One great report came from Tommy Glavine in Double-A," Cox said. "He thought he was outstanding."

Rookie Venters continues to impress

HOUSTON -- Although left fielder Jason Heyward has received plenty of publicity and attention during his rookie season, rookie reliever Jonny Venters has contributed to the Braves as well.

Venters leads all rookie relievers with a 1.10 ERA, 17 holds, 60 strikeouts and a .170 opponents' batting average.

"That's why we are where we are," manager Bobby Cox said. "He's pitched himself in consideration for Rookie of the Year."

Venters hasn't given up a run in his past eight innings since he allowed one on July 30 against the Reds. Over that stretch, he's only given up two hits and two walks while striking out eight over seven appearances.

"He's gotten better as we've gone along," Cox said.

Worth noting

Jason Heyward celebrated his 21st birthday Monday. ... Second baseman Martin Prado continued his recovering from a broken knuckle on his right pinkie finger by hitting off a tee during batting practice Monday. ... Reliever Eric O'Flaherty threw a bullpen session Monday and will throw a simulated game Wednesday. He's recovering from mononucleosis.