CINCINNATI -- The people responsible for the home run celebration fireworks at Great American Ball Park barely had time to reload in the fourth inning on Monday. Three homers in the bottom of the fourth helped power the Reds to an 8-2 victory over the Braves. It was Cincinnati's third win in four games since the All-Star break, while Atlanta has dropped three of its last four.
Atlanta took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth, before Cincinnati pounced with five runs in the bottom half. Zack Cozart hit a solo homer against Braves starter Matt Wisler, before Joey Votto and Eugenio Suarez each added two-run shots. Cincinnati had been without a home run in each of its previous four games.
"The ball started to get up in the fourth inning," Wisler said. "I came out the first couple innings, kept the ball down, even if I was missing in the middle they were usually down, they weren't doing too much with it, but once they ball got up, they started teeing off on me."
Brandon Finnegan started for the Reds and worked five-plus innings, allowing two earned runs, seven hits, one walk and striking out five in his first start since July 5. Finnegan faced three batters in the sixth but couldn't record an out. It included Adonis Garcia's leadoff homer, Freddie Freeman's ground-rule double and Nick Markakis' single that ended the lefty's night. Blake Wood took over and retired the side in order to squash the rally.
"I just wanted to go out there and get ahead," said Finnegan, who gave up four homers vs. the Cubs in his previous start. "As a pitcher when you get ahead, you can do a lot. It helps you out a lot more. You saw tonight that once I got behind, it kind of hurt me a little bit. Today was definitely a step forward."
Wisler gave up six runs (five earned) and eight hits over five-plus innings with two walks and three strikeouts. In the Reds' sixth, reliever Joel De La Cruz allowed an inherited run to cross on Tucker Barnhart's RBI single. In the seventh with Eric O'Flaherty on the mound, Votto added an RBI single that scored Billy Hamilton, and the Reds' first baseman later scored on pinch-hitter Ivan De Jesus Jr.'s bloop RBI single.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Career-high tie for Cozart: It was Cozart who started the home run barrage, when he led off the fourth by hitting Wisler's 1-1 slider to left field. It was the 15th homer of the season for Cozart, who already tied the career high he set in 2012 with just under half of this year remaining. It was his first long ball since July 6.
Three for Adonis: Garcia's fourth-inning homer, which traveled 376 feet and came off the bat at 100 mph according to Statcast™, was his sixth of the season and his first since June 26, a span of 17 games. Garcia finished the night 3-for-4 and scored two runs, his second straight multi-hit game after going 2-for-4 against Colorado on Sunday.
"I was just trying to stack some right-handers up there in this ballpark, just get them guys up more, because you never know what might happen, and he kind of did exactly what I hoped he would do," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "Hopefully he can get hot and get that ball in the air and carry it."
Hamilton! Following Cozart's homer in the fourth, Hamilton helped set up the rest of Cincinnati's big inning with his single into center field. The speedster induced a balk off a pickoff throw to first base by Wisler and then stole third base on the first pitch to Votto. It was a 2-2 count when Votto took Wisler deep for his 15th homer of the season and first since June 30. Hamilton had three hits in the game and three steals.
"When he gets going, he can really do some cool things," Votto said. "I think he's a really fun guy to watch."
Second time's not the charm: Wisler cruised through his first three innings, facing the minimum and allowing two hits. But when the Reds turned over the lineup for the first time in the fourth, they teed off on the 24-year-old righty. Wisler has struggled with the second time through the order, with an average against him of .309 with eight homers allowed compared to a .236 average and three homers allowed. More >
"We were able to take advantage of some mistakes -- certainly big for Suarez hitting the home run on his birthday and Cozart, Votto, to be able to extend the lead and give us a cushion. Obviously Finnegan kind of ran out of gas in the sixth, and what a great job by the bullpen." -- Reds manager Bryan Price, on his team's complete win over the Braves
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After Wood, Raisel Iglesias provided two scoreless innings and Ross Ohlendorf posted another zero in the ninth. That extended the Reds bullpen's scoreless-innings streak to 13, a new season high.
PHILLIPS DEPARTS EARLY
Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips favored his right leg as he ran to first base after grounding into a fielder's choice to the shortstop. He was lifted for De Jesus, who pinch-hit in the seventh. Phillips had returned to the lineup Monday after he missed two games with a right calf strain.
"He was able to play and could have finished the game, but we felt at that time it was smart to get him out of the game," Price said. "I'm fairly confident he'll be back out there tomorrow."
WHAT'S NEXT Braves: The Braves send rookie Tyrell Jenkins to the mound for the second game against the Reds that begins at 7:10 p.m. ET on Tuesday. The right-hander is making his second career start after moving to the rotation from the bullpen. In his lone start on July 6, Jenkins pitched 4 2/3 innings and allowed one run on 64 pitches.
Reds: Rookie left-hander Cody Reed will make his first start since July 10 when he gets the ball vs. Atlanta. Reed and the Reds sorely need for him to show better results. Over the first five big league starts of his career, Reed is 0-4 with an 8.39 ERA.