Uggla's homers, late slam erase Minor damage

Second baseman goes deep twice, earning win for strong lefty in finale

Uggla's homers, late slam erase Minor damage

CINCINNATI -- The Braves brought their power stroke to Great American Ball Park on Wednesday, getting two home runs from Dan Uggla and a grand slam from Juan Francisco to beat the Reds, 7-2, and win the rubber match of a three-game series.

"It was a good win after what happened last night," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said, referencing Craig Kimbrel's blown save. "Good resiliency from our club to come back out and get a win."

Both of Uggla's homers were solo shots off of Reds starter Mike Leake. The first long ball, which came in the fourth inning, traveled 392 feet and tied the game at 1. Uggla went yard again in his next at-bat in the sixth, sending a 3-2 pitch 343 feet over the left-field fence.

It was the seventh homer of the year and the 17th career multihomer game for Uggla, who has now hit safely in six straight games, during which he is 9-for-24 (.375) with three home runs and two triples.

"It's still a work in progress, but I'm definitely going in the right direction," said Uggla, who raised his average to .209. "I just feel more and more comfortable each time up."

Francisco's eighth-inning grand slam off of J.J. Hoover turned a tight 3-1 game into a 7-1 blowout. Jay Bruce homered in the ninth to bring the Reds a run closer.

"Juan's got some juice," Gonzalez said. "He got a pitch out over the plate with the bases loaded, and it was good to see."

That was more than enough offense for Braves starter Mike Minor, who was stellar throughout. He allowed one run on four hits in seven innings. He walked three and struck out seven, throwing a season-high 117 pitches. His previous high was 102, which he threw in a 4-3 win against the Rockies on April 23.

Minor avoided major disaster in the second inning. He allowed the first three hitters to reach base, two via walk, but escaped the inning unscathed. Left fielder Evan Gattis threw a rocket to home plate to nab Brandon Phillips, who was trying to score on a sacrifice fly.

"I was kind of surprised he went," Gattis said. "The ball kind of brought me in. I'm just glad I made the throw. At the time, it was kind of big."

Minor then induced a groundout from Devin Mesoraco to retire the side.

"I was thinking, 'They're going to at least get one or two [runs] here, but let's try to limit the damage,'" Minor said. "But I got the double play with Gattis. It was huge, a big relief. And the next guy I just had to go after."

Leake did the same the next inning. The Braves loaded the bases with one out, but Freddie Freeman grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.

Leake entered the game 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA in three career meetings against the Braves. He struggled Wednesday against the top of the order, as Jordan Schafer and Andrelton Simmons combined to go 7-for-10. Schafer had two singles and a stand-up triple, while Simmons had three singles -- all to left field -- and a double.

The only other Brave to get a hit off of Leake was Uggla, who finished 2-for-4.

Reds shortstop Zack Cozart started the scoring with a two-out home run to left in the third inning. It was the fifth homer Minor has allowed in his past three starts -- this after allowing just one long ball in his first four outings.

Minor, however, kept his poise. He allowed Donald Lutz and Mesoraco to reach base with two out in the seventh, but got Leake to fly out to end the threat.

"It's one of those situations where you're supposed to get the pitcher out, but he's a good-hitting pitcher, so you don't want to leave anything over the plate," Minor said. "I was surprised [they let him hit]. We thought maybe they were trying to do something, but they left him in. That's how much confidence they have in him hitting."

Leake allowed four runs on eight hits in seven-plus innings of work.

Freeman added an insurance run with an RBI single in the eighth before Francisco blew the game open.

Any chance of a Reds comeback almost disappeared.

"Those ones like last night are going to happen," Uggla said. "Today was a lot less stressful."

Tony Meale is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.