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Cincinnati at Atlanta

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Cincinnati (23-18)0800100009134
Atlanta (21-20) «00102000710101

Conrad's slam caps 7-run ninth as Braves stun sloppy Reds

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ATLANTA -- Brooks Conrad slowed up as he rounded first base, unsure if his drive had cleared the left field wall to give the Atlanta Braves an improbable victory.

Then he saw Laynce Nix swat at his empty glove in frustration.

The ball went over. Game over.

Conrad hit a pinch-hit grand slam Thursday to finish off a seven-run ninth inning that gave the Bravesa 10-9 victory over the Cincinnati Reds, who fell out of first in the NL Central and can only hope the stunning loss doesn't leave a hangover on their surprisingly strong start.

"It was a horrible ending," said Reds manager Dusty Baker, who appeared close to breaking down after the game. "Boy, that was a tough one."

The Braves put together the biggest ninth-inning comeback since Cleveland rallied from six runs down against Tampa Bay on May 25, 2009, according to STATS LLC.

"I hit it and I was kind of talking to it to get out of there and I saw [Nix] jump up," Conrad said. "From my angle ... it looked like he kind of brought it back. I put my hands on my helmet and said, 'No way he caught that.'"

He didn't.

"I thought I had it," Nix said. "It just bounced out."

Atlanta fell behind 8-0 against rookie sensation Mike Leake and was still down 9-3 heading to the ninth. Four straight hits, including Nate McLouth's two-run single, gave the Braves hope. A walk to David Ross loaded the bases with no outs, bringing the potential tying run to the plate.

Martin Prado hit a grounder to third that looked like a sure double play, but Miguel Cairo couldn't get the ball out of his glove -- Cincinnati's fourth error of the game. Jason Heyward struck out against Arthur Rhodes on a 3-2 pitch, and Cincinnati turned to closer Francisco Cordero (1-3) for the last two outs.

Instead, Conrad hit a drive that deflected off Nix's glove as he reached over the top of the wall at the 380-foot sign. Standing near the mound, Cordero ripped out his jersey and looked toward the dugout in disbelief.

The Braves won their third straight game in the final at-bat, beating the Reds 5-4 with Heyward's ninth-inning double Wednesday. Atlanta has won eight of 10 to climb above .500 (21-20) for the first time since April 22.

The remarkable rally overshadowed Joey Votto's first career grand slam, the highlight of Cincinnati's eight-run second inning, and Leake's attempt to improve to 5-0. Craig Kimbrel (1-0) quietly picked up his first major league win with a scoreless ninth.

Leake certainly did his part, allowing only one earned run on five hits in six innings. He gave up three runs in all, but the others could be blamed on a leaky defense that eventually caught up with the Reds. Right-fielder Jay Bruce fumbled away a fly ball at the warning track, and shortstop Orlando Cabrera dropped a throw on a potential double-play grounder.

Cabrera also mishandled a hard-hit grounder in the ninth, a play that was generously ruled a hit.

"We gave them their first three runs, and in the ninth we got two double-play balls," Baker said. "It was shocking, all right."

Leake, one of the few players to jump directly to the majors without any major league experience, was matched against Tommy Hanson in a showdown between two of baseball's best young pitchers. The Atlanta right-hander didn't hold up his end of the expected duel, giving up eight hits and eight runs in 1 2/3 innings -- easily the worst start of his big league career.

Hanson escaped trouble in the first but wasn't so fortunate in the second, even after Ramon Hernandez's leadoff single was followed by two straight outs. Leake helped his cause with a single to center, Cabrera walked to load the bases and Cairo dumped a run-scoring single to center on an 0-2 pitch.

Leake held up at third, leaving the bases loaded for Votto. He got ahead 3-1 in the count, then made Hanson pay for a fastball just above the knees with a towering drive that easily cleared the wall in left-center.

The Reds weren't done, either. Phillips singled, Bruce walked and Hernandez came through with his second hit of the inning to make it 6-0. Nix followed with a two-run double into the right-field corner, finally prompting Braves manager Bobby Cox to call for the bullpen.

Notes

  • Troy Glaus had three hits for the Braves.
  • Cincinnati 3B Scott Rolen got the day off. Baker described him as "very sore and tight."
  • Braves P Kenshin Kawakami developed another blister on his right foot during a start Wednesday night, and he also pitched with a strained back. The Braves are off next Monday, so Kawakami could be skipped if needed.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Brooks Conrad gets praise from his coaches after his pinch-hit walk-off grand slam for Atlanta. (AP)
Brooks Conrad gets praise from his coaches after his pinch-hit walk-off grand slam for Atlanta. (AP)

Players of the Game
Atlanta

B. Conrad
AB 1
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 4
Cincinnati

L. Nix
AB 5
R 1
H 3
HR 1
RBI 3
 
Cincinnati Reds
Orlando Cabrera, SS4120111 .271
Miguel Cairo, 3B4121101 .182
Joey Votto, 1B4114002 .311
Brandon Phillips, 2B5110014 .258
Jay Bruce, RF3100222 .264
Ramon Hernandez, C5221000 .280
Laynce Nix, LF5133012 .217
Drew Stubbs, CF4000123 .194
Mike Leake, P3120010 .353
   a- Micah Owings, PH1000012 .111
    Mike Lincoln, P0000000 .000
    Nick Masset, P0000000 .000
    Arthur Rhodes, P0000000 .000
    Francisco Cordero, P0000000 .000
Totals38913959  
a-struck out for Leake in the 7th
Batting
2B - Laynce Nix (2, Hanson), Mike Leake (1, J. Chavez)
HR - Joey Votto (10, Hanson), Laynce Nix (2, J. Chavez)
RBI - Miguel Cairo (3), Joey Votto 4 (31), Ramon Hernandez (8), Laynce Nix 3 (6)
2-OUT RBI - Miguel Cairo (2), Joey Votto 4 (15), Ramon Hernandez (4), Laynce Nix 2 (2)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
DP - Cabrera-B. Phillips-Votto, Votto-Cabrera-Leake
E - Jay Bruce (1, Dropped fly), Orlando Cabrera (3, Missed catch of throw), Miguel Cairo (2, Misplayed grounder), Mike Leake (2, Missed catch of throw)
Cincinnati Reds
Mike Leake 6531160 2.91
Mike Lincoln 2444000 5.87
Nick Masset0021100 7.32
Arthur Rhodes (H,10) 0.1000010 0.55
Francisco Cordero (BS,3; L,1-3)0111001 3.60
Pitches-Strikes - Mike Leake 99-63, Mike Lincoln 33-23, Nick Masset 9-3, Arthur Rhodes 6-3, Francisco Cordero 6-4
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Mike Leake 8-5, Mike Lincoln 1-5, Nick Masset 1-0
Batters Faced - Mike Leake 25, Mike Lincoln 10, Nick Masset 2, Arthur Rhodes 1, Francisco Cordero 1
Atlanta Braves
Martin Prado, 2B5221000 .322
Jason Heyward, RF5001013 .276
Chipper Jones, 3B4000023 .225
    Craig Kimbrel, P0000000 .000
   a- Brooks Conrad, PH1114000 .250
Brian McCann, C3000001 .254
    Jonny Venters, P0000000 .000
   b- Omar Infante, PH-3B1000000 .306
Troy Glaus, 1B4130000 .289
Eric Hinske, LF4110033 .355
Yunel Escobar, SS4110002 .200
Nate McLouth, CF3212100 .208
Tommy Hanson, P0000000 .059
    Jesse Chavez, P1000010 .000
   c- Melky Cabrera, PH1110000 .200
    David Ross, C1100100 .200
Totals371010827  
a-homered for Kimbrel in the 9th
b-flied out for Venters in the 8th
c-singled for J. Chavez in the 5th
Batting
2B - Martin Prado (12, Leake)
HR - Brooks Conrad (3, Cordero)
RBI - Martin Prado (19), Jason Heyward (30), Brooks Conrad 4 (9), Nate McLouth 2 (13)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
DP - Jones-Prado-Glaus, Escobar-Glaus, Escobar-Glaus
E - Troy Glaus (4, Throwing)
Atlanta Braves
Tommy Hanson 1.2888221 4.18
Jesse Chavez 3.1211031 7.23
Jonny Venters 3300230 1.08
Craig Kimbrel (W,1-0) 1000110 2.70
HBP - Votto (by Tommy Hanson)
Pitches-Strikes - Tommy Hanson 55-31, Jesse Chavez 42-24, Jonny Venters 48-28, Craig Kimbrel 20-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jesse Chavez 1-6, Jonny Venters 4-0, Craig Kimbrel 2-0
Batters Faced - Tommy Hanson 16, Jesse Chavez 12, Jonny Venters 12, Craig Kimbrel 4
Game Information
Attendance - 21621
Game Time - 2:59
Temperature - 77
Umpires - Home - Lance Barksdale, First Base - Ed Rapuano, Second Base - Tom Hallion, Third Base - Ron Kulpa