Uggla, Francisco power Braves past Reds, 7-2
CINCINNATI (AP) — Mike Leake ended Cincinnati’s streak of six straight subpar rotation performances. It wasn’t enough to get a win.
Dan Uggla hit a pair of solo homers off Leake, and Juan Francisco added his first career grand slam as the Atlanta Braves recovered from a stunning last-swing loss by beating the Reds 7-2 Wednesday.
Atlanta took two of three in the series, the first the Reds lost at home this season. The Reds are 13-6 at Great American Ball Park, the most home wins the majors.
Devin Mesoraco and Shin-Soo Choo hit two-out homers in the ninth inning for Cincinnati’s 5-4 win on Tuesday night. A day later, one of the NL’s top power teams got the better of it. Atlanta came into the game tied with Colorado for the NL lead with 44 homers and hit three more off Leake and the bullplen.
“I felt good,” Leake said. “I was mixing and matching.”
Uggla had solo shots in the fourth and sixth innings off Leake (2-2), his first multihomer game this season.
The Braves took all the stress out of it by sending nine batters to the plate for five runs in the eighth off three Reds pitchers. Francisco hit the Braves’ first grand slam of the season off J.J. Hoover, the player he was traded for last year.
His fifth homer landed in the Braves’ bullpen down the right field line. Francisco said he got no extra pleasure from hitting the grand slam against the team that traded him away.
“It just felt good that I got first grand slam in major leagues,” he said.
The top of the lineup had a big day, too. Jordan Schafer had three hits, and Andrelton Simmons had a career-high four hits in the top two spots.
Left-hander Mike Minor (4-2) allowed four hits in seven innings, including Zack Cozart’s homer in the third. He got Leake to fly out with two out and two aboard in the seventh, throwing 117 pitches overall.
Last year, Leake homered off Minor’s changeup. This time, he got nothing but fastballs.
“Minor looks like he has more confidence than he did last year,” Leake said.
Minor has been tough on left-handed batters this season. Reds manager Dusty Baker figured Leake — a .313 hitter with 50 hits over the last four seasons — was his best option.
“We had a choice of letting him hit or using a pinch-hitter,” Baker said. “Not taking anything away from our guys, but he was the best right-handed hitter we had on the bench.”
Jay Bruce had a solo shot in the ninth off Anthony Varvaro.
The game matched starting pitchers taken back-to-back in the 2009 amateur draft. Minor was taken seventh out of Vanderbilt, with Leake drafted next out of Arizona State. They faced each other in college.
There was a replay review in the fourth, when Evan Gattis hit a long foul down the third base line. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez talked to the umpires, who reviewed the play for 3 minutes, 5 seconds and upheld the call. Gattis struck out on the next pitch.
Up came Uggla, who homered on the following pitch to tie it at 1. Uggla is 4 for 10 career off Leake with three homers.
Both teams wasted early bases-loaded opportunities.
Cincinnati loaded the bases with no outs in the second. Donald Lutz flied out to left field, and Gattis threw out Brandon Phillips at the plate as he tagged on the play. The Braves loaded the bases with one out in the third before Freddie Freeman grounded into a double play.
NOTES: The Braves head to San Francisco for a four-game series. The Reds are off Thursday before hosting Milwaukee. … Uggla has a six-game hitting streak. … Simmons has seven multi-hit games in his last 16. … Braves C Brian McCann, who returned from the DL at the start of the series, got the day off. McCann had surgery on his throwing shoulder last October. … The Reds’ 5-4 win on Tuesday night marked the first time since 1977 that Cincinnati won a game with a pair of two-out homers in the ninth. Dan Driessen and Johnny Bench had homers off Philadelphia’s Tug McGraw for a 6-5 win. Driessen’s homer was inside the park.
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