CINCINNATI (AP) With clutch hitting virtually non-existent, Atlanta's pitching and Yasiel Puig's leaky defense made the difference for the Braves on Wednesday night.
Ozzie Albies homered on the game's first pitch and Ronald Acuna Jr. scored from first base on Puig's fifth-inning error, helping Atlanta to a 3-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds.
Acuna scored easily when Puig misplayed Nick Markakis's line drive single to right, allowing it to skip under his glove and roll to the wall for a two-base error.
''Yassi made an aggressive attempt on the ball,'' Reds manager David Bell said. ''He's made some great plays by doing that. This one didn't work out.''
Josh Donaldson doubled down the left field line to drive in Albies from first with an insurance run in the ninth.
Mike Soroka (1-1), in his second start of the season and seventh of his career, tied his career high with seven strikeouts while allowing five hits and one run with three walks in 5 2-3 innings. He finished with a career-high 109 pitches.
''It was pretty cool,'' Soroka said. ''I didn't realize I was there until I came out. I still felt pretty good.''
''Mike was really, really good,'' Braves manager Brian Snitker said. ''He just ran out of pitches. That's the farthest he's gone in a game. He had a really good breaking ball and a really, really good sinker. He was in the strike zone and attacking hitters with his stuff.''
The Reds loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth against Soroka, but reliever Josh Tomlin got slumping pinch-hitter Scott Schebler to ground out on the first pitch to first baseman Freddie Freeman. Schebler has two hits in his last 27 at bats and is batting .150 this season.
Luke Jackson and Dan Winkler combined to face the minimum six batters over the next two innings before A.J. Minter pitched a perfect ninth for his third save.
''All of them were huge in a game like this in this ballpark,'' Snitker said.
Albies smashed Tanner Roark's 91-mph four-seam fastball over the Reds bullpen down the right field line for his third home run of the season. The leadoff homer was his first of the season and fifth of his career.
''The first pitch of the game was poorly located,'' Roark said. ''I knew he would swing first pitch. It was poor execution. I didn't want one pitch in the game to dictate how the game goes.''
The Reds quickly rallied in the bottom of the first on Joey Votto's leadoff walk, his fourth consecutive walk over two games, and back-to-back singles by Eugenio Suarez and Jesse Winker.
That was the game's only hit with runners in scoring position. The teams combined to go 1-for-18.
The Braves put at least two runners on base in each of the next three innings, but couldn't push them across the plate, stranding seven through four innings.
Roark (1-1) got through five innings, allowing six hits and two runs with three walks and four strikeouts. He also hit a batter.
In 44 career plate appearances against Roark, Markakis has never struck out.
KEEPING IT GOING
Freddie Freeman's third inning single means he's reached base at least once in all 23 Atlanta games this season, the National League's longest streak of the season.
Braves: LHP Jonny Venters threw a bullpen before Wednesday's game and could be ready for a rehab assignment, manager Brian Snitker said. Venters went on the IL on April 15 with a right calf strain.
Reds: IF Scooter Gennett hopes in the next week to firm up a timetable for a rehab assignment. Gennett has missed the entire season with a strained right groin.
Braves: RHP Julio Teheran (2-2, 5.61) allowed 11 hits and seven runs in five innings in his last start against Cincinnati and got the decision in a 13-8 Atlanta win on June 4, 2017.
Reds: RHP Jose Castillo (2-1, 1.47) was switched from starting Friday in St. Louis to starting this game. The Braves have hit a combined .294 over eight innings in two games against Castillo.
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