For the second straight night, the Cincinnati Reds found themselves on the fortunate side of a nail-biting finish. Edging the Atlanta Braves by a final of 5-3, the club drew a split of the weekend series.
Alfredo Simon is finally off the schnide. Picking up his first win of the second half, Simon was back to his exceptionally sound first half ways, dominating during his seven innings of work. Although back-to-back doubles in the seventh inning got the Braves on the board, those would be the only two extra-base hits Simon would allow.
Opposing Simon in the other dugout was former Red Aaron Harang. He would not allow an extra-base hit all game long, but his afternoon would not last nearly as long, nor go as smoothly.
The Reds would get the offense churning in the fourth when Todd Frazier and Brandon Phillips began the inning with base hits. Jay Bruce would scamper to first on an infield hit in which Harang forgot to cover the base, ultimately proving detrimental to the well being of the inning. After a sacrifice fly from Ryan Ludwick, both Brayan Pena and Zack Cozart would have run-scoring base hits to right field, pushing the Cincinnati lead up to 3-0.
It was quite the offensive explosion from the Reds’ number eight hitter, Zack Cozart, on Sunday afternoon. His first at-bat would be generously gifted as a single on a groundball that appeared to be an error, but he would finish the day 3-for-4, driving in a second run on a fielder’s choice in the sixth, and missing a home run by a mere matter of inches in the eighth and settling for a triple.
Entering his start on Sunday, Aaron Harang was tied for second in the National League in quality starts with his teammate Julio Teheran, both having performed the feat 21 times. There would be no sole possession in the cards for Harang quite yet, as he exited after just 5.1 innings and four runs allowed, while yielding eight hits and two walks on just five strikeouts.
Just as Simon allowed a run in the top of the seventh, Todd Frazier wasted little time in getting the run right back. Unloading for the Reds’ first home run since the last occasion Frazier went deep back on August 19, Todd watched as the ball rocketed off the overhang of the upper deck at peak velocity, exiting the ballpark quicker than it came in.
A true collective effort on offense saw Frazier, Jay Bruce and Brayan Pena all collect multi-hit games alongside the heroics of Zack Cozart. Frazier and Bruce would score four of the teams five runs, each crossing the plate twice. Bruce would even swipe his 12th bag of the season.
As productive as the offense was, the game nearly got away from the bullpen late. With Aroldis Chapman having pitched in three consecutive games, one of which was a two-inning effort, which tied his career-high in pitches, the flamethrower would be unavailable at the backend of the Reds’ bullpen.
Ahead by four runs heading into the ninth, manager Bryan Price elected to let Logan Ondrusek start the inning. It would not take long for Atlanta to get on the board as Evan Gattis clobbered his 20th home run of the season to lead off the frame, getting Jonathan Broxton up and throwing in a hurry.
It seemed Ondrusek had things under control, retiring the next two batters and even going 0-2 in the count on pinch-hitter Emilio Bonifacio. The former Chicago Cub would battle back and eventually get himself an infield single, forcing the hand of Price to bring in a heavily-used Broxton.
For his third day in a row, Jonathan Broxton marched out of the Cincinnati ‘pen. After a run-scoring single from Jason Heyward, the 300-pounder would walk both Phil Gosselin and Freddie Freeman to load the bases with two outs and just a two-run lead for perennial MVP candidate Justin Upton. Staying away from the slugger’s power territory, Broxton got Upton to bounce out to Brandon Phillips to shut the door and send the 29,000+ in attendance home happy.
Losing the season series to the Atlanta Braves five games to two, the Redlegs at least obtained a split at their home park.
Following the off day on Monday, the Reds welcome in the Chicago Cubs for a three-game set at Great American Ball Park. Taking the mound against them will be another familiar face, this time in the form of Travis Wood. The former National League All-Star locks heads with the reigning All-Star in Johnny Cueto. First pitch is slated for 7:10 p.m. down at the yard on Tuesday evening.