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Braves rally late to defeat Reds

Atlanta snaps two-game slide with 5-4 win in Acuna’s debut

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Cincinnati Reds David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Braves once again overcame a late deficit and this time the bullpen did the job in a 5-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds.

The Braves didn’t waste any time against Reds starter Brandon Finnegan. Ender Inciarte led off the game with an single, stole second base and then scored on an infield single by Ozzie Albies after a throwing error by Scooter Gennett. Ronald Acuna flew out to deep right center field in his first at bat to end the inning.

Atlanta struck again in the third when Johan Camargo doubled home Inciarte to put the Braves up 2-0. Albies extended the lead to 3-0 in the fifth with a towering home run that hit off of the left field foul pole.

Matt Wisler kept the Reds in check for the first four innings but ran into trouble in the fifth as a lead off walk to Jesse Winker set things in motion. Wisler then retired Jose Peraza on a line out but then served up a two-run home run to Joey Votto to cut Atlanta’s lead to 3-2.

Adam Duvall followed with another walk before Scott Schebler doubled on a sharp line drive to center. Duvall was initially ruled out at the plate but replay overturned the call after it revealed that Carlos Perez’s tag was high. Duvall’s run tied the game and prolonged the inning for Wisler who had to stand around while replay ruled on the play at the plate.

Tucker Barnhart followed with a double to right that scored Schebler to put Cincinnati in front before Wisler finally got Alex Blandino to fly out to end the inning.

Wisler wasn’t nearly as fortunate as in his first start. He exited after five having allowed nine hits, three walks and four runs. He struck out three and gave up the home run to Votto.

Jesse Biddle worked out of a bases loaded jam in the seventh to keep the score 4-3.

Atlanta tied things up in the eighth. Acuna singled to center for the first hit of his career. Dansby Swanson fought off several pitches from reliever Kevin Shackelford before singling through the left side. Acuna was running on the pitch and moved all the way to third on the play.

Shackelford battled back to strike out Preston Tucker for the second out of the inning before Kurt Suzuki came through with a clutch single to center that scored Acuna and tied the game. Shackelford escaped further damage by getting Inciarte to ground out to second to end the threat.

The Braves pushed another run across in the ninth. Albies got things started as he took a pitch in the shoulder from Shackelford to put the lead off running on for Atlanta. Freddie Freeman followed with a solid single to center and Atlanta was in business with two on and no out.

Jim Riggleman replaced Shackelford with Dylan Floro who immediately got Nick Markakis to ground to third baseman Phil Gosselin. Markakis was originally ruled out at first on the double play by C.B. Bucknor but replay showed that he beat it and the play was reversed. Camargo followed with a line shot that deflected off the glove of Cliff Pennington that scored Albies to put the Braves back in front 5-4.

Floro battled back and struck out Acuna and then retired Swanson on a ground out to escape further damage.

Given the way Atlanta’s bullpen has performed of late, no lead feels very safe, but A.J. Minter came on in the ninth and slammed the door retiring Votto, Gennett and Duvall in order to seal the win.

Inciarte finished with three hits for Atlanta and scored a pair of runs. Albies, Freeman and Camargo all had two hits each. Albies’ fifth inning home run was his team-leading seventh of the season and tied the Braves record for extra base hits in the month of April.

Acuna recorded the first hit of his career and scored his first run. He finished 1-for-5 with a pair of strikeouts.

The Braves will hope to salvage a split in the series when the two teams meet again on Thursday afternoon.

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