MILWAUKEE -- Bobby Cox's cigar might still stink, but at least his team didn't.
The Atlanta Braves manager said he enjoyed his postgame treat a little bit more than usual on Monday, because it was a victory cigar.
"Not a losing cigar -- for a change," Cox said.
Cox's team rebounded from a trying weekend in a rough month with a 2-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday afternoon, thanks to starting pitcher Chuck James, who tied a career high with eight strikeouts, and Andruw Jones, who belted the 350th home run of his career.
"It's nice after being swept to get the jump on these guys," James said.
Atlanta and Milwaukee came into Monday's game with identical 28-22 records and fairly similar profiles. Both teams got off to hot starts in April, only to fall on hard times in May.
Atlanta was swept at home by Philadelphia over the weekend and had lost 10 of its last 14 games. But they got a jolt from James on Monday, who gave up one run and five hits in six innings.
Milwaukee now has lost six straight and 13 of its past 17, but still holds the lead in a weak NL Central.
"We're still in first place, so there's no reason in panicking," center fielder Bill Hall said. "Yeah, we're not playing as well, but we're still in first place and that's all that matters."
James (5-4), who went 11-4 as a rookie last season but had lost two of his past three decisions coming into Monday's game, held Milwaukee scoreless until Prince Fielder smacked his National League-leading 16th home run of the season to lead off the sixth inning.
The Brewers didn't see much of James last season, but Hall said he fits the template of a typical Braves pitcher: Staying down and away with his fastballs, making few mistakes and relying on a good changeup.
"He just does what Atlanta Braves pitchers have been doing for a long time," Hall said.
James said he recently made an adjustment to his delivery after sensing that he was throwing across his body too much, a mechanical flaw he said made his pitches flatten out.
"Today is really the first day I could throw strikes," James said.
James had the Brewers baffled for the first six innings, but Cox opened the door for Milwaukee when he lifted James in favor of pinch hitter Martin Prado with the bases loaded and nobody out in the seventh. Prado struck out, and Brewers starter Chris Capuano (5-4) got out of the jam with a popout by Kelly Johnson and a flyout by Matthew Diaz.
Atlanta reliever Tyler Yates then allowed the first two runners he faced to reach base in the seventh, and Rickie Weeks' sacrifice bunt gave Milwaukee runners at second and third with one out. But J.J. Hardy then hit a screaming line drive that was picked out of the air by first baseman Scott Thorman.
"We were getting those hits earlier in the year," Hall said.
Reliever Rafael Soriano then came in to strike out highly regarded Milwaukee rookie Ryan Braun, who was making his home debut after being called up last week. Braun also struck out with runners on second and third to end the fifth inning.
Brewers manager Ned Yost said his players generally aren't pressing at the plate, but Braun might have been.
"(He) tried a little too hard, came out of his approach a little bit," Yost said.
Capuano held the Braves hitless through two outs in the fourth, when the 30-year-old Jones drove a 1-2 pitch just over the wall in right field for his eighth home run of the season and 350th of his career.
Jones, who has homered in the Braves' last two games, said he has been working on his balance.
"I'm feeling good right now at the plate," Jones said.
Capuano was trying to get Jones to chase a high fastball well out of the strike zone.
"That was certainly the last result I expected," Capuano said.
Capuano has lost four straight games, tying a career high. Although he has been struggling with his command of late, the Brewers have been held to a single run in each of those four losses.
Still, Capuano isn't blaming the offense.
"Everyone's doing their best," Capuano said. "There's no pointing fingers around here."
With his team's hot start now swirling down the drain, Yost compared hitting to a faucet.
"You don't know when it's going to come on, and when it comes on, the hits just start coming," Yost said.
- Yost said RHP Ben Sheets would start against John Smoltz on Tuesday night. Sheets left his most recent start, a loss in Los Angeles May 22, with a blister on his throwing hand.
- Braves 3B Chipper Jones missed his fifth straight game with a sore right hand. Cox said the team is considering placing him on the disabled list.
- Bob Wickman pitched a perfect ninth for his eight save in 10 chances.
- The Brewers announced a crowd of 41,139, their eighth sellout of the season.