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Justin Upton's HR carries Braves over Reds
Atlanta, GA (SportsNetwork.com) - Justin Upton smacked a three-run homer in the first inning to lead the Atlanta Braves to a 5-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds in the opener of a three-game set.
Freddie Freeman went 3-for-4 with two runs scored, Evan Gattis had two hits and an RBI and Jason Heyward drove in a run for the Braves, who saw starter Ervin Santana (3-0) surrender four runs on nine hits over 6 2/3 innings, while fanning seven.
Craig Kimbrel picked up his seventh save of the season. Despite allowing the first two batters to reach base, Kimbrel fanned the next two and got Joey Votto to ground out to end the game.
Votto picked up a pair of hits and an RBI, and Billy Hamilton knocked in a run for the Reds, who had a three-game win streak broken.
Homer Bailey (1-2) took the loss as he was knocked around for five runs on nine hits through six innings.
Atlanta got on the board in the bottom of the first after back-to-back singles from B.J. Upton and Freeman set up Justin Upton for his three-run blast to left field.
"It's always nice to jump out ahead and give your pitcher a little cushion and get comfortable and we were able to do that," said Justin Upton.
The Braves struck again in the second on a Heyward single to center field. Andrelton Simmons hit a double to left-center and Heyward drove him in a batter later with two-outs to give the Braves a 4-0 lead.
Freeman singled to leadoff the third to keep the Braves rolling. A wild pitch moved Freeman to second before Justin Upton flied out to center, sending Freeman to third. Gattis then drove in Freeman with a single to left.
Cincinnati broke through in the sixth with a pair of runs. Votto walked to leadoff the inning and Brandon Phillips followed up with a double down the left-field line. Jay Bruce then plated Votto with a single up the middle and Neftali Soto grounded into a double play, which brought Phillips across to score.
"If you have to lose at the end of the day you hope to have some good things to look back on. It was 5-0 against a very good pitching staff, good bullpen, good starter, good team. We came back and pushed and pushed and pushed," said Reds manager Bryan Price.
Devin Mesoraco hit a leadoff single in the seventh before a wild pitch sent him to second. Hamilton then doubled up the middle, which plated Mesoraco and a single by Votto scored Hamilton to pull the Reds within 5-4 after seven.
Braves' relievers Luis Avilan, David Carpenter and Jordan Walden then combined for 1 1/3 scoreless innings to set-up Kimbrel for the save.
Atlanta is now 9-0 when scoring first this season ... The Braves went 3- for-6 with runners in scoring position and stranded four men on base ... Cincinnati left seven men on base, while going 4-for-14 with RISP.
04/25 23:47:35 ET