CINCINNATI -- It was a good thing for Reds pitcher Anthony DeSclafani that Tucker Barnhart hit a home run in the sixth inning on Wednesday afternoon at Great American Ball Park. The two-run shot not only provided a lead, it allowed DeSclafani to pitch eight innings as the Reds took a 6-3 victory over the Braves and claimed two of three games in the series.
Braves starter Lucas Harrell took a 2-0 lead into the sixth inning when Cincinnati erupted for a four-run rally. With one out, Jose Peraza hit a two-run single to center field that scored Jay Bruce and Eugenio Suarez. Two batters later, Barnhart put the Reds ahead with a two-run homer to right field. Manager Bryan Price would have pinch-hit for DeSclafani, who was hitting ninth behind Barnhart, had they not taken the lead.
"I told [DeSclafani] the other day that he needs to pitch more, because I seem to drive in some runs when he pitches," said Barnhart, who is batting .345 in his past 18 games. "[Harrell] threw me two sliders there before the heater. I was lucky to put a good swing on it. I feel really good at the plate right now. I'm just trying to keep it rolling."
Harrell finished with four earned runs and seven hits over six innings, with three walks and three strikeouts.
"Wheels came off right there," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He did a good job of keeping us in the ballgame for five innings. Obviously stayed with him too long."
DeSclafani pitched eight innings for the second time this season and allowed two earned runs and eight hits, with no walks and three strikeouts. He is 5-0 with a 2.50 ERA in eight starts this season.
In the seventh, Joey Votto provided added insurance with his own two-run homer to right field against lefty reliever Ian Krol. The Braves made the gap less comfortable in the ninth, when Adonis Garcia led off with a first-pitch homer to right field against right-hander Ross Ohlendorf to make it a three-run game. But there would be no comeback, as the Reds won for the fourth time in their past six games.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Heads-up baserunning: In the sixth as Cincinnati trailed, 2-0, Bruce and Suarez started the inning with singles vs. Harrell. When Brandon Phillips flied out to right field, Bruce tagged up and went to third base, and Suarez alertly advanced to second base and easily beat a wide throw. That enabled Suarez to score on Peraza's single on a close play at the plate that was reviewed.
"Suarez followed him and set the table for Peraza to line that two-run single that led us to Barney's two-run homer and giving us a lead," Price said. "So much of that was based on the fact the Geno tagged up and did a heads-up job on the bases. A lot of good things these first six games of the second half."
Freeman goes deep:Freddie Freeman's first-inning homer came off the bat at 102 mph and traveled 382 feet, according to Statcast™. The homer busted a 1-for-19 stretch for Freeman. After being held 0-for-11 against Colorado, Freeman came into Wednesday's game 1-for-8 with four strikeouts against the Reds. He finished the game 1-for-4, striking out three times. Freeman's jack was his first at Great American Ball Park. His 81 homerless plate appearances were the most he's had at any park without going yard.
"This park's a graveyard. Know what I mean?" Freeman said. "I've never in my career been swinging very well when I come into this park, and I was able to get one over there today."
Votto is hotto: Votto's homer in the seventh was his 16th of the season and second in three games. It also continued a very hot stretch for the first baseman. He has reached safely in 15 of his past 16 games (.565 on-base percentage) and he's hit safely in all six games since the All-Star break, while batting .550 (11-for-20).
Five is enough: Harrell cruised through his first five innings, allowing three hits and just two men into scoring position. But in the sixth, he looked more like he did in his previous start, allowing four hits and four runs in the frame. The overall outing was better than his 3 2/3-inning, seven-run (five earned) performance against Colorado, but still a long way away from his first two starts, in which he had a 1.32 ERA over 13 2/3 innings. More >
"The clubhouse has been great all year. It's going to get even better if we can continue to put some good games together like we did today, and this series and the prior series. It's nice. We have an off-[night] to spend with our families, and then we have an off-day to come back here and get ready for hopefully another good series against Arizona." -- Barnhart
"DeScla ... I don't even know how you say his last name, but he pitched eight great innings and he was able to move the ball in and out and get some ground balls, and we just couldn't get any runs on the board." -- Freeman on DeSclafani's eight-inning performance
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Garcia's homer in the ninth was the Major League-leading 19th homer allowed by the Reds' bullpen this season on a reliever's first batter faced. Cincinnati's pitchers overwhelmingly lead the league with 161 homers allowed, including 69 by its bullpen.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
On the play at the plate in the sixth inning, Suarez was called safe by home-plate umpire Angel Hernandez as the Reds' third baseman slid in just ahead of Ender Inciarte's excellent throw. Catcher A.J. Pierzynski immediately protested, and the Braves challenged the call. After an extended review, it was determined that the call stands.
"Honestly, I couldn't tell," Snitker said. "It looked like if he did tag him [and] he's out, but it's hard to tell from looking up there. So basically, we saw enough in the room down here to want to challenge that one. I've just seen that they don't overturn a play like that very often. That didn't surprise me."
WHAT'S NEXT Braves: The Braves travel to Colorado on Thursday to face the Rockies for the second time in their past three series. Mike Foltynewicz takes the mound in the 8:40 p.m. ET start. In his past outing, also against the Rockies, Foltynewicz allowed three runs in seven-plus innings and took a no-decision.
Reds: Following Thursday's off-day, the Reds will open a three-game series vs. the D-backs at 7:10 p.m. ET on Friday. Dan Straily, who pitched seven scoreless innings his last time out on Sunday vs. the Brewers, will get the ball for Cincinnati.