The Braves had been winless in all four previous rubber games this season, but that streak ended on Sunday as Reds rookie starter Amir Garrett struggled in his return from the disabled list. Atlanta jumped out to a big early lead before emerging with a 13-8 victory over Cincinnati to take two of three in the series. Ender Inciarte led the way with a 5-for-5 game and a career-high five RBIs.
Three home runs against Garrett staked the Braves to a 9-2 lead through three innings. Danny Santana hit a two-run shot to left field in the top of the second inning. With one out in the third inning, Matt Adams went deep with his third homer in two days, this time a solo shot. Inciarte slugged a three-run homer with two outs in the third to chase Garrett.
“It’s good to have an offensive day because there is no lead that is safe here,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “I’ve just been a part of too many weird games in this ballpark. So, it was good that we just kept adding on.”
In 2 2/3 innings — the shortest outing of his nine-start big league career — Garrett allowed nine runs (eight earned) with seven hits, three walks and one strikeout. Jake Buchanan worked long relief for a career-high 5 1/3 innings, allowing two runs. He also notched his first big league hit, an RBI single in the fourth inning.
“They were swinging early a little bit and had some runs. I knew I was in there to eat innings and help save the bullpen and help some of those guys get some rest,” Buchanan said. “I’ve been starting so I’m stretched out and it wasn’t a big deal to throw that many innings.”
The Braves’ offensive barrage supported a poor performance by their starter, Julio Teheran, who pitched five innings with seven earned runs, 11 hits, two walks, four strikeouts and two home runs. A two-run homer by Arismendy Alcantara with one out in the fifth — his first of the season — got Cincinnati within striking distance by making it 11-7. Against reliever Jason Motte in the sixth, Zack Cozart hit his second homer of the afternoon to close the deficit to three runs. But Atlanta added two runs in the top of the ninth against Blake Wood to stay comfortable.
“[Teheran] got just a little flat,” Snitker said. “When he made mistakes, they made him pay. You can’t make mistakes here. He just wasn’t real sharp like he had been. Fortunately, we scored enough runs today to cover it up.”
The Braves had a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when Cozart lifted a Teheran 1-2 pitch and pulled it inside the left-field foul pole for a 2-1 Reds lead. Cozart returned in the fourth with a line drive that a diving Inciarte completely missed, allowing the ball to roll to the center-field fence for a two-run triple that made it a 9-5 game. In the sixth against Motte, a solo homer to center field gave him a career-high-tying five RBIs. His career-high streak of reaching base safely extended to 26 games.
Santana hasn’t been the stuff of legend at the plate for the Braves since his May 8 trade from the Twins. In his seventh start for his new team and entering batting .114, Santana was 4-for-5 with two doubles, a homer and three RBIs. He gave the Braves the lead for good in the second inning when he slugged a 3-2 Garrett fastball that was nearly over his head and sent it into the left-field seats for a two-run homer and a 3-2 lead. It was his second homer of 2017, but his first with the Braves.
Bartolo Colon will take the mound when Atlanta welcomes Philadelphia to SunTrust Park for the opener of a four-game series Monday at 6:35 p.m. CT. Colon’s performance will influence how much longer he remains in Atlanta’s rotation.