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Atlanta at Cincinnati

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Atlanta (19-13)300010000450
Cincinnati (19-15) «001010012590

Reds slay Kimbrel in ninth with back-to-back home runs

CBSSports.com wire reports
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CINCINNATI -- Craig Kimbrel was one strike away from getting career save No. 100. Five pitches later, he was walking off the field stunned.

Devin Mesoraco hit a home run on a full-count pitch from Kimbrel with two outs in the ninth inning on Tuesday night, and Shin-Soo Choo followed with his second home run of the game, rallying the Cincinnati Reds to a 5-4 victory against the Atlanta Braves.

So sudden, and so shocking for everyone.

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"He's the best closer in the league," said Choo, whose second career game-ending home run gave him a team-high seven this season. "This is a big game for us."

Cincinnati's offense has been struggling the last couple of weeks. The Reds were one strike away from another low-scoring loss after Kimbrel (0-1) fanned the first two batters in the ninth and went to a full count on Mesoraco.

"In that situation, I don't want to walk him," Kimbrel said.

Mesoraco hit a fastball that sent center fielder B.J. Upton toward the wall. He jumped at the last instant but narrowly missed the ball, which landed in the first row at one of the majors' most homer-friendly ballparks.

"That was incredible," Mesoraco said of his first career pinch-hit home run. "I watched [Upton]. Once he looked up, it was a pretty good feeling."

Kimbrel had blown a save last Friday by giving up his first home run of the season, a shot by David Wright that tied it in the ninth. The Mets went on to win 7-5 in 10 innings.

He gave up his second and third home runs in quick succession on Tuesday.

"All around, it's frustrating," said Kimbrel, who is 10 for 13 in save chances. "I've blown three saves. Those are wins we should have had."

Jonathan Broxton (1-1) retired three batters in the ninth for Cincinnati's fourth win in five games.

The comeback gave Dusty Baker his 1,600th victory as a manager, moving him ahead of Tommy Lasorda for 18th place on the career list.

"That's one of the best I can remember of the 1,600," Baker said. "It might be the top."

The Braves led from the first inning until Kimbrel's last few pitches.

Brian McCann singled with the bases loaded in the first inning -- the first hit of his injury-shortened season -- as the Braves pulled ahead 3-0 against Homer Bailey. Kris Medlen limited Cincinnati to four hits in seven innings, including Choo's solo home run.

Medlen has five quality starts in his seven appearances, but only one victory. Mesoraco's home run snatched away another.

"Anytime we're here, the ballpark is kind of an excuse," Medlen said. "But that Mesoraco fly ball is a fly-ball out in a lot of places."

The Braves have the top bullpen in the NL, but have frittered away a couple of late leads in the past few days.

"You've got to get that last out," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We've got to get three outs to close a game. We've just got to get through it."

For the second game in a row, a Reds starter lasted a season-low five innings. Bronson Arroyo gave up four runs in a 7-4 loss in the series opener on Monday night. Bailey allowed four runs on five hits and four walks in five innings, leaving for a pinch hitter in the fifth. Donald Lutz batted for Bailey and singled home a run that cut it to 4-2.

Joey Votto's double in the sixth extended his hitting streak to 10 games, the longest by a Reds player this season. Brandon Phillips' sacrifice fly in the eighth cut it to 4-3.

The series matches the NL's top two teams at striking out. The Braves lead the league with 297, the Reds are next at 268. Cincinnati's Jay Bruce, who leads the NL with 49 strikeouts, fanned with Votto on third base in the sixth inning. Todd Frazier struck out with two aboard in the eighth.

Andrelton Simmons hit a pair of home runs in the series opener and moved up from eighth in Atlanta's batting order to leadoff. He opened the game with a double and scored the first run. He also made a sensational play in the fourth, diving for a grounder in the hole at shortstop and throwing out Bruce at first.

Simmons also made a barehand catch-and-throw to get Choo at first base in the eighth.

Notes

  • The game started after a 35-minute rain delay.
  • Braves OF Jason Heyward, who had an appendectomy on April 22, took batting practice before the game. The Braves will decide by the end of the week whether he's ready to start a rehab assignment.
  • Reds C Ryan Hanigan started a rehab assignment at Triple-A Louisville. He has been on the 15-day DL since April 21 with a strained left oblique.
  • Jack Hannahan made his fourth start, all at third base.
  • It was Choo's eight career multi-homer game.
 
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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Cincinnati's welcoming committee is out for Shin-Soo Choo after his home run off Craig Kimbrel ends the game.  (USATSI)
Cincinnati's welcoming committee is out for Shin-Soo Choo after his home run off Craig Kimbrel ends the game. (USATSI)

Players of the Game
Cincinnati

S. Choo
AB 5
R 2
H 2
HR 2
RBI 2
Atlanta

B. McCann
AB 4
R 0
H 1
HR 0
RBI 2
 
Atlanta Braves
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Andrelton Simmons, SS4110011 .252
B.J. Upton, CF3110121 .153
Justin Upton, RF3100111 .278
Freddie Freeman, 1B3111100 .319
Evan Gattis, LF4000024 .250
    Eric O'Flaherty, P0000000 .000
    Craig Kimbrel, P0000000 .000
Brian McCann, C4012001 .125
Dan Uggla, 2B4011000 .198
Juan Francisco, 3B3000122 .282
    Ramiro Pena, 3B0000000 .293
Kris Medlen, P2000020 .000
    Jordan Schafer, LF1000000 .270
Totals31454410  
Batting
2B - Andrelton Simmons (5, Bailey)
SH - Kris Medlen (2)
RBI - Freddie Freeman (17), Brian McCann 2 (2), Dan Uggla (10)
2-OUT RBI - Brian McCann 2 (2), Dan Uggla (3)
Team LOB - 5
Atlanta Braves
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Kris Medlen 7422261 3.25
Eric O'Flaherty (H,11) 1311010 2.40
Craig Kimbrel (BS,3; L,0-1) 0.2222022 3.38
Pitches-Strikes - Kris Medlen 99-68, Eric O'Flaherty 19-10, Craig Kimbrel 18-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Kris Medlen 6-9, Eric O'Flaherty 1-1
Batters Faced - Kris Medlen 27, Eric O'Flaherty 6, Craig Kimbrel 4
Cincinnati Reds
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Shin-Soo Choo, CF5222012 .333
Zack Cozart, SS4110012 .208
Joey Votto, 1B4020000 .325
Brandon Phillips, 2B3001011 .281
Jay Bruce, RF4010011 .246
Xavier Paul, LF2000101 .255
   a- Todd Frazier, PH-LF1000012 .237
Jack Hannahan, 3B3100111 .276
Corky Miller, C4010020 .125
Homer Bailey, P1000000 .300
   b- Donald Lutz, PH1011000 .273
    Sam LeCure, P0000000 .000
   c- Cesar Izturis, PH1000010 .156
    Sean Marshall, P0000000 .000
    Jonathan Broxton, P0000000 .000
   d- Devin Mesoraco, PH1111000 .237
Totals3459529  
a-struck out for Paul in the 8th
b-singled for Bailey in the 5th
c-struck out for LeCure in the 7th
d-homered for Broxton in the 9th
Batting
2B - Joey Votto (8, Medlen)
HR - Shin-Soo Choo 2 (7, Medlen, Kimbrel), Devin Mesoraco (1, Kimbrel)
SF - Brandon Phillips (4)
RBI - Shin-Soo Choo 2 (15), Brandon Phillips (29), Donald Lutz (2), Devin Mesoraco (8)
2-OUT RBI - Shin-Soo Choo 2 (6), Devin Mesoraco (3)
Team LOB - 6
Cincinnati Reds
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Homer Bailey 5544470 3.83
Sam LeCure 2000020 1.72
Sean Marshall 1000000 0.00
Jonathan Broxton (W,1-1) 1000010 5.02
WP - Homer Bailey (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Homer Bailey 93-56, Sam LeCure 18-13, Sean Marshall 13-8, Jonathan Broxton 13-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Homer Bailey 4-4, Sam LeCure 2-2, Sean Marshall 2-1
Batters Faced - Homer Bailey 24, Sam LeCure 6, Sean Marshall 3, Jonathan Broxton 3
Game Information
Attendance - 25730
Game Time - 2:50
Temperature - 62
Umpires - Home - Gary Cederstrom, First Base - Kerwin Danley, Second Base - Mike Muchlinski, Third Base - Victor Carapazza