Put me in coach: Hobbled Braves conclude set with Reds

7:07 AM, Jul 14, 2013   |    comments
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(Sports Network) - The Atlanta Braves will head into the All-Star break with a sizeable lead atop the NL East, but injuries to three of their key players raise big questions for the second half of the season.

The short-handed Braves will conclude a four-game series against the Cincinnati Reds Sunday at Turner Field.

Atlanta was without Justin Upton (left calf strain), B.J. Upton (right adductor muscle strain) and Jason Heyward (strained right hamstring) for Saturday, but still managed to win, 5-2, behind seven innings and a pair of RBI from Mike Minor.

The Uptons and Heyward are expected to sit out today's game.

"You're not going to replace any of those guys, but our outfield did a great job today of getting some big hits for us," Braves second baseman Dan Uggla said. "We have some guys in there that are going to grind out some at-bats."

Left fielder Jose Constanza went 3-for-4 with an RBI. Center fielder Reed Johnson and right fielder Joey Terdoslavich each had two hits and a run scored.

Uggla and Brian McCann homered for Atlanta, which has won four of its last six contests.

Minor (9-4) appeared to be in trouble early in yesterday's game when he gave up two runs in the second inning. He conceded only one hit after those two runs in seven innings of work. Minor struck out seven, while walking just one batter.

The left-hander also went 1-for-2 with a double that knocked in two runs during the bottom of the fifth inning.

Cincinnati starter Homer Bailey (5-8) struck out seven over six innings of work, but gave up four runs on 10 hits and a walk to absorb the loss.

"It's just one of those days. It seems like I've had a lot of one of those days," said Bailey on his second consecutive loss.

Shin-Soo Choo went 2-for-4 and knocked in a run for the Reds, who have lost five of their last seven games. Choo's single in the first inning extended his hitting streak to 11 games.

Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the ninth to earn his 26th save of the season for the Braves, who hold a seven game lead over Washington atop the NL East.

Julio Teheran tries to win his third consecutive decision today for the Braves. The right-hander tossed 7 1/3 frames in a victory at Miami Tuesday. He's 4-1 in eight home starts this year. This will be the first time he'll face the Reds.

Cincinnati left-hander Tony Cingrani will make his third start since he returned to the rotation July 3. Cingrani, who will face the Braves for the first time, continues to fill the spot vacated by the injured Johnny Cueto.

Cingrani won his first three decisions in a starting role for the Reds before making five consecutive relief appearances. In his most recent start, Tuesday at Milwaukee, Cingrani allowed three hits and a pair of runs while logging 10 strikeouts over seven innings in a 2-0 loss.

Cingrani hasn't posted a victory since June 11 at Wrigley Field. He's made seven appearances since that time.

The Braves won two out of three in a series with the Reds in early May in Cincinnati, outscoring the hosts, 18-11. The Reds won five of six games between the teams in 2012.

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