Andrelton Simmons homers twice as Braves top Reds 7-4

USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta's bullpen did its best to make it interesting, but the Braves used home runs from Andrelton Simmons (2) and Jordan Schafer to hold off the Reds with a 7-4 victory at Great American Ballpark.

The Braves jumped on Cincinnati starter Bronson Arroyo in the first inning. Chris Johnson walked with one out, and advanced to third on a bloop single to right from Justin Upton. Freddie Freeman followed with a single that plated Johnson to make it 1-0. Atlanta had a bases loaded opportunity later in the inning, but Dan Uggla struck out to end the frame.

Simmons launched the first of his two blasts in the second inning, smashing an Arroyo changeup into the left field seats for his third homer of the year. Dan Uggla hit the second triple of both his and Atlanta's season to start the fourth inning, and Simmons was there to drive him in with a single to left field to make it 3-0.

After working out of trouble in the third inning, Atlanta starter Paul Maholm found himself in more in the fourth inning. A leadoff single to Zack Cozart followed by a walk to Joey Votto had the Reds in business with no outs. Brandon Phillips hit a line drive to left that Evan Gattis unsuccessfully attempted to catch on a dive, bringing in Cozart and putting Votto on second. A Jay Bruce grounder brought home Votto and made it a 3-2 game.

Arroyo allowed one more run in the fifth when Evan Gattis' double to left field brought in Justin Upton, who singled to right to start the frame. Arroyo left after the inning, finishing with a line of 5 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, and a season high 7 strikeouts.

Maholm left after 5.2 innings with a runner on second; giving way to everyday Cory Gearrin. A wild pitch put a runner on third, but Gearrin froze Devin Mesoraco to escape the inning. The left-handed Maholm allowed four hits, two runs (earned), two walks, and struck out six in a strong outing.

Fast forward to the eighth inning, where Logan Ondrusek was greeted rudely by Simmons and Jordan Schafer. After an Uggla singled, Simmons hit his second home run of the game to make it a 6-2 game. It was the first multi-homer game of Simmons' career. Schafer followed with a blast of his own to right field to make it 7-2.

Right-hander Jordan Walden entered the bottom of the inning and promptly allowed a double, a rbi double, and a single before giving way to Eric O' Flaherty. EOF coaxed three groundouts while only allowing one more run to score in escaping the jam and allowing Atlanta to hold on to a 7-4 lead.

Craig Kimbrel allowed two hits, but struck out Joey Votto with runners on first and second to record the 99th save of his career.

Three thoughts:

  • Even if he didn't actually get the tag on Choo, the fact that Simmons was able to even make an attempt and get the call on a between the legs tag is just ridiculous. Simmons was fantastic on usual on defense, something that can't be understated when he's surrounded by below average defenders in Chris Johnson and Uggla.
  • B.J. Upton continues to struggle, striking out four times. He's now 9 for his last 74 with 26 strikeouts. I was encouraged to see him work the count and take some pitches both in his fourth and final strikeout and in his last at-bat that resulted in a walk. Gotta keep throwing him out there.
  • The debut of Evan Gattis in left field was a mixed bag. Gattis made a nice running catch early on in the game, but mistakenly dove for Phillips' double and also committed an error later on while fielding a grounder. It'll be interesting to see how often Gattis finds himself out there going forward.
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