Baseball / Sports

Braves get blanked on 3 hits in loss to Reds

CINCINNATI -- After stranding 13 runners on base in a 12-inning win Friday against the Reds, the Braves didn't mount a scoring threat against them until the seventh inning Saturday. And they failed to cash in that one.

The Braves mustered just three hits and failed to convert after Andrelton Simmons' seventh-inning leadoff double, and pitcher Ervin Santana's strong performance went unrewarded in a 1-0 loss to the Reds at Great American Ball Park, the 100th shutout in the 12-year history of the majors' most hitter-friendly ballpark.

Reds starter Mike Leake struck out both Freddie Freeman and Justin Upton after Simmons' double. When Evan Gattis and Chris Johnson worked a pair of walks to loaded the bases, reliever Jumbo Diaz entered the game and induced a sharp grounder from Tommy La Stella for a 6-4 force out that ended the inning.

Santana (13-7) allowed only four hits, one run and one walk with seven strikeouts in seven innings, but lost for the first time in seven decisions and nine starts. The game was delayed for 1 hour, 56 minutes before the first pitch.

The only Brave to advance to second base was Emilio Bonifacio on a two-out double in the eighth inning, and he was stranded when Simmons struck out. Bonifacio had two of the Braves' three hits.

It was the second loss in nine games for the Braves, and second in four games since a five-game winning streak. They are 4-2 on a 10-game trip and need a win in Sunday's series finale to avoid a split of their four-game series with the Reds, before a day off Monday and a three-game series at New York against the Mets.

Santana lowered his ERA to 2.95 in 11 starts and lost for just the second time in 10 decisions in that span. The Reds had just two base runners in the first five innings -- a single in the third and a hit batter in the fourth -- and neither advanced.

But after the pitcher Leake's leadoff double in the sixth, Billy Hamilton sacrificed him to third and Brandon Phillips' two-out single on a full-count pitch gave the Reds a 1-0 lead.

As well as Santana pitched, Leake (10-11) was even more effective in limiting the Braves to two hits and three walks with six strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings.

The right-hander had allowed 16 hits and nine earned runs in 12 innings over his previous two starts, but against the Braves Leake recorded 15 outs in the first 15 batters he faced. After Bonifacio led off the the game with a single, he was thrown out trying to steal for the second out in the inning.

Leake retired the next 10 batters after Bonifacio's hit, including eight consecutive groundouts. Between the first and seventh innings, the only Brave to reach base was Freeman on a two-out walk in the fourth inning.

The Braves had a prime scoring opportunity after Simmons' leadoff double in the seventh. But Leake struck out their two hottest hitters, Freeman and Upton. After Johnson walked, Gattis worked a full count, checking his swing on every pitch before fouling off a 3-2 pitch and then taking ball 4.

With the bases loaded, the Reds brought in right-hander Jumbo Diaz to face La Stella, who before Saturday was 6-for-9 with bases loaded with three doubles, a triple, a walk, no strikeouts and 15 RBIs. The rookie grounded sharply to the shortstop, who threw to second for the inning-ending force.

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