Andrelton Simmons hit two home runs and drove in four runs total, and starter Paul Maholm pitched 5 2/3 effective innings, as the Atlanta Braves made it two in a row with a 7-4 win over the Reds in Cincinnati. The Braves jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first when Freddie Freeman singled in Chris Johnson, who had walked and advanced to third on Justin Upton’s bloop single down the right field line.
Simmons’ homer leading off the second inning made it 2-0, and the Braves shortstop notched his second RBI, and extended the Braves lead to 3-0 in the fourth inning, when he knocked in Dan Uggla, who had led off the inning with a triple to right center.
Maholm cruised through the first three innings, giving up only one hit and zero runs. The Reds got to him for two runs in the fourth when Zack Cozart led off with a single, Joey Votto walked, and Brandon Phillips knocked in Cozart with a double. Votto scored when Jay Bruce grounded out.
The Braves got back one of the runs in the top of the 5th when Justin Upton singled to right, and he circled the bases when Evan Gattis smoked one to the base of the left center field wall. Gattis was stranded when McCann grounded out and Uggla struck out
Maholm got help to shut down a Reds rally in the 5th.. With two out and runners on first and second, Braves third baseman Chris Johnson ranged far to his left to snag a sharply hit Joey Votto grounder. While still on the run he threw quickly to Dan Uggla covering second, to force Shin-Soo Choo on a close play.
Maholm left with two outs in the sixth, after Todd Frazier laced a single to left, and took second on Evan Gattis’ error. Maholm’s pitch count was at 105, and Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez brought on the right-handed Corey Gearrin to pitch to the Reds right-handed hitting catcher, Devin Mesoraco. Gearrin got the job done by striking out Mesoraco on a 3-2 count, after wild-pitching Frazier to third.
The Braves were stymied in the sixth and seventh innings when Reds reliever Alfredo Simon struck out all six men he faced. Simon came into the game with only 10 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings, and a 4.91 ERA, so it isn’t as if Simon has been fooling everybody this season. The Braves just have the ability at times to make mediocre pitchers look dominant with the way they swing and miss.
Atlanta ended the Reds’ 7th inning when pitcher Luis Avilan caught Sin Shin-Choo off first base, and Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons snagged the errant Freddie Freeman throw to second base, and while falling tagged the runner with the glove between his (Simmons) legs. It was truly an incredible play by the young Braves shortstop.
The Braves scored their final three tallies when Dan Uggla singled and Andrelton Simmons followed with his second home run of the game. Jordan Schafer then hit a long pinch-hit home run to right field.
The Reds made it somewhat interesting in the eighth when they scored two runs on three hits off Braves reliever, Jordan Walden. Walden threw eleven pitches but was unable to record an out. Eric O’Flaherty relieved Walden and got the three outs without allowing a runner.
Craig Kimbrel came in on the ninth to preserve the 7-4 victory while recording his 10th save on the season.
Solid win for the Braves with the only real negative being B.J. Upton striking out four successive times. He avoided a fifth consecutive strikeout by drawing a walk.
The Braves, who extended their lead in the National League East to 2.5 games over the idle Nationals, will tangle with the Reds again tomorrow night at 7:10 in the second game of this three game series.