A wacky, eventful game played between two last-place teams was decided when Arodys Vizcaino issued a two-out bases-loaded walk in the ninth inning to give the Reds a lead they wouldn’t relinquish in Monday night’s 9-8 win over the Braves at Turner Field.
After allowing six runs through the first six innings, the Braves received scoreless innings from Casey Kelly and Jim Johnson. But after Adonis Garcia provided a game-tying homer in the eighth, Vizcaino surrendered a leadoff double to Joey Votto in the ninth and then issued a one-out intentional walk to Jay Bruce. The Braves’ closer proceeded to walk two of the next three batters he faced, including Tyler Holt with the bases loaded.
“It was a little ugly there on both sides in the early going, and neither starter was really able to get into a groove, keep the game rolling and get some early contact,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “So it ended up turning into somewhat of a slugfest, even though a catalyst for a lot of scoring opportunities, at least for us, were the base on balls.”
Vizcaino has issued four unintentional walks over his past 3 1/3 innings dating back to the blown save he suffered against the Padres on June 7. He had issued just six unintentional walks in the 23 1/3 innings completed this season before this span.
“I felt like the strike zone kinda got tight on me,” Vizcaino said through an interpreter. “I was getting some pitches and didn’t get some others. I was just trying to maneuver and navigate my way through it. But what can you do?”
The tone was set as the Reds produced three runs in both the first and third innings against Braves starter Aaron Blair, who surrendered six runs over five innings. Blair’s ugly outing would have been more glaring had the Braves not tallied five runs over three innings against Reds right-hander Daniel Wright. Freddie Freeman drilled a go-ahead two-run homer in the fifth, but that lead was short-lived, as Atlanta reliever Ryan Weber surrendered two more runs in the sixth.
“It’s tough because of the way the guys played and came back and stayed after it,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It’s just one of those you’d like to come back and win.”
As Freeman finished a triple shy of the cycle and notched his third three-hit game of the season, he played a key role in Atlanta’s comeback. The first baseman produced an RBI single in a two-run first inning and notched a two-out double to spark a two-run third inning. His go-ahead home run in the fifth inning provided him his first multi-RBI game at home this season. He had totaled just eight RBIs through the previous 32 games at Turner Field.
The Reds jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the first behind big swings from Bruce and Adam Duvall. Zack Cozart drew a walk to open the game and later scored on Bruce’s two-out triple, his league-leading sixth of the season. Duvall came to the plate next and hit a 2-2 pitch off the top of the left-field foul pole for his 18th home run. He’s now homered 11 times over the past 21 games.
Walks hurt: After recovering from a three-run first inning with a perfect second inning, Blair surrendered a single and issued three consecutive walks before notching his first outs of the third inning with consecutive sacrifice flies. He retired nine of the 10 batters he faced after issuing those three walks, but by that point, the damage had already done by the rookie right-hander, who has allowed at least six runs in three of his past five starts.
While Blair could benefit from some time with Triple-A Gwinnett, Snitker said Blair will make at least one more start.
“Today was pretty much just the two innings,” Blair said. “The other three innings, I was aggressive in the strike zone. It’s been kind of a roller coaster from inning to inning. But hopefully in five days, I can make it smooth.”
With the score tied at 8 in the bottom of the eighth, the Braves loaded the bases with one out against Ross Ohlendorf, who surrendered a game-tying home run to Garcia to open the frame. The right-hander buckled down, though, and retired the final two batters of the inning on a line drive to Brandon Phillips and a groundout to third.
“It was an easy cave situation if he wasn’t a little bit mentally stronger,” Price said of Ohlendorf. “He had to make pitches, and he fell behind in a couple of those at-bats with runners on and was still able to come back and make pitches. It took him and [catcher] Tucker [Barnhart] a little while to figure out the recipe to get it done, but they did, and it was big.”
Julio Teheran will take the mound when this four-game series resumes on Tuesday at 6:10 p.m. ET. Teheran has surrendered five solo home runs over the course of his past two starts, but he has a 1.94 ERA over his past 10 outings. Thunder Radio will bring you the broadcast on the Braves Radio Network beginning at 6 PM.