By GEORGE HENRY, Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Braves aren’t exactly reeling.
They’ve held first place in the NL East since May 31 and still lead the league in runs scored.
Over the past seven games, however, manager Brian Snitker has watched his team lose five times in the first lull of the season.
“This is really the first grind-type thing team-wise that we’ve been through,” he said. “You’re going to go through it. Everybody goes through it. We’re not going to be immune to it.”
Adam Duvall had a two-run single in the seventh inning, Jose Peraza homered and scored twice, and the Cincinnati Reds beat the Braves 6-5 on Wednesday.
The Reds have won two straight, nine of 10 and 12 of 15 after taking two of three at SunTrust Park. Closer Raisel Iglesias had a perfect ninth to earn his 15th save in 17 chances, giving Cincinnati its best 10-game stretch since June 19-29, 2012.
“We definitely don’t ever think we’re out of a game,” said Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett, the NL’s leading hitter with a .336 average. “At any moment we can tack on a few runs, take the lead and our bullpen’s been doing a great job of keeping it.”
Cincinnati took advantage of another shaky outing by reliever Sam Freeman (2-4), scoring three runs in the seventh inning for a 6-5 lead on Gennett’s RBI single and Duvall’s single.
Freeman allowed two hits, three runs in two-thirds of an inning and dropped to 1-3 with an 8.16 ERA in his past 15 appearances. Atlanta’s bullpen blew three leads on the homestand and posted a 5.46 ERA in 29 2/3 innings as the Braves missed an opportunity against Baltimore, the AL’s worst team, and Cincinnati, the NL’s third-worst.
It marked the first time this season Atlanta lost consecutive home series.
Next up is a 10-game road trip against three of the majors’ best teams in St. Louis, the New York Yankees and Milwaukee. Snitker said he’s not concerned about the personnel. The recent combination of rain delays and extra-inning games has gotten things out of sync.
“The bullpen is taxed. We’re getting guys on and have a hard time in the productive out situation,” Snitker said. “It’s going to happen.”
The Braves had gone 2 for 20 with runners in scoring position in the past two games, but four runners scored from second base in the fourth. They went 0 for 5 the rest of the way.
Jackson Stephens (2-0) struck out two in 1 2/3 innings to earn the win. Iglesias earned a save for the second straight day and has converted his past six chances.
Braves starter Sean Newcomb allowed seven hits, three runs and two walks with six strikeouts in six innings. He has a 2.13 ERA in his past six home starts, but threw a career-high 111 pitches.
Cincinnati starter Luis Castillo retired the first 11 batters and gave up six hits, one walk and five runs — four earned — with four strikeouts in four innings. After Castillo was chased in the fifth, Peraza misplayed a bases-loaded grounder that allowed a run to score and would’ve ended the inning.
The Reds made it 4-3 in the fifth when Peraza tripled and scored on Brandon Dixon’s single. Cincinnati led 2-0 on Billy Hamilton’s RBI single in the second and Peraza’s homer, his third, in the third.
Four straight singles in the seventh gave the Reds the lead for good.
“We’ve had some games lately where we came back in late innings, so that’s one thing about this team,” Duvall said. “We don’t give up.”
ACHES AND PAINS
Braves 2B Ozzie Albies got the day off after his left foot was hit by a pitch in the fourth inning Tuesday. He stayed in the game, but Snitker said he was sore when he woke up Wednesday. Albies, the NL doubles leader, is batting .459 during an eight-game hitting streak. … Atlanta CF Ender Inciarte left the game before the start of the eighth with a sore oblique. Snitker believes he will be ready by Friday.
Reds 1B Joey Votto was ejected in the first inning for arguing a called third strike. It was the eighth of his career and the first since Sept. 9, 2015. Dixon took Votto’s place and went 1 for 2.
Braves LF Ronald Acuna Jr., sidelined since May 28 with a left knee sprain and bruises to his knee and lower back, will likely be reinstated from the disabled list before Friday’s game at St. Louis. He went 3 for 11 in his past three rehab games with Triple-A Gwinnett. … Atlanta RHP Mike Soroka was transferred to the 60-day disabled list. Soroka, a prized young starter, is on the DL for the second time with shoulder inflammation.
Reds: RHP Anthony DeSclafini (3-1, 4.09 ERA) will try to win his fourth straight start when Cincinnati opens a four-game home series Thursday against Milwaukee.
Braves: RHP Julio Teheran (5-5, 4.52 ERA) starts Friday at St. Louis. He allowed six hits and seven runs in 4 2/3 innings of his previous start, a 7-5 loss to the Orioles last Saturday.