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The Atlanta Braves aren’t exactly reeling.
They’ve held first place in the NL East since May 31 and still lead the league in runs scored.
Over the past seven games [url=http://www.packerscheapstore.com/marquez-valdes-scantling-jersey-cheap]Marquez Valdes-Scantling Jersey Packers[/url] , however, manager Brian Snitker has watched his team lose five times in the first lull of the season.
”This is really the first grind-type thing team-wise that we’ve been through,” he said. ”You’re going to go through it. Everybody goes through it. We’re not going to be immune to it.”
Adam Duvall had a two-run single in the seventh inning, Jose Peraza homered and scored twice, and the Cincinnati Reds beat the Braves 6-5 on Wednesday.
The Reds have won two straight, nine of 10 and 12 of 15 after taking two of three at SunTrust Park. Closer Raisel Iglesias had a perfect ninth to earn his 15th save in 17 chances, giving Cincinnati its best 10-game stretch since June 19-29, 2012.
”We definitely don’t ever think we’re out of a game,” said Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett, the NL’s leading hitter with a .336 average. ”At any moment we can tack on a few runs, take the lead and our bullpen’s been doing a great job of keeping it.”
Cincinnati took advantage of another shaky outing by reliever Sam Freeman (2-4), scoring three runs in the seventh inning for a 6-5 lead on Gennett’s RBI single and Duvall’s single.
Freeman allowed two hits, three runs in two-thirds of an inning and dropped to 1-3 with an 8.16 ERA in his past 15 appearances. Atlanta’s bullpen blew three leads on the homestand and posted a 5.46 ERA in 29 2/3 innings as the Braves missed an opportunity against Baltimore, the AL’s worst team, and Cincinnati, the NL’s third-worst.
It marked the first time this season Atlanta lost consecutive home series.
Next up is a 10-game road trip against three of the majors’ best teams in St. Louis [url=http://www.authenticsdetroitlions.com/cheap-da_shawn-hand-jersey]Da'Shawn Hand Color Rush Jersey[/url] , the New York Yankees and Milwaukee. Snitker said he’s not concerned about the personnel. The recent combination of rain delays and extra-inning games has gotten things out of sync.
”The bullpen is taxed. We’re getting guys on and have a hard time in the productive out situation,” Snitker said. ”It’s going to happen.”
The Braves had gone 2 for 20 with runners in scoring position in the past two games, but four runners scored from second base in the fourth. They went 0 for 5 the rest of the way.
Jackson Stephens (2-0) struck out two in 1 2/3 innings to earn the win. Iglesias earned a save for the second straight day and has converted his past six chances.
Braves starter Sean Newcomb allowed seven hits, three runs and two walks with six strikeouts in six innings. He has a 2.13 ERA in his past six home starts, but threw a career-high 111 pitches.
Cincinnati starter Luis Castillo retired the first 11 batters and gave up six hits, one walk and five runs – four earned – with four strikeouts in four innings. After Castillo was chased in the fifth, Peraza misplayed a bases-loaded grounder that allowed a run to score and would’ve ended the inning.
The Reds made it 4-3 in the fifth when Peraza tripled and scored on Brandon Dixon’s single. Cincinnati led 2-0 on Billy Hamilton’s RBI single in the second and Peraza’s homer, his third, in the third.
Four straight singles in the seventh gave the Reds the lead for good.
”We’ve had some games lately where we came back in late innings, so that’s one thing about this team,” Duvall said. ”We don’t give up.”
ACHES AND PAINS
Braves 2B Ozzie Albies got the day off after his left foot was hit by a pitch in the fourth inning Tuesday. He stayed in the game, but Snitker said he was sore when he woke up Wednesday. Albies, the NL doubles leader, is batting .459 during an eight-game hitting streak. … Atlanta CF Ender Inciarte left the game before the start of the eighth with a sore oblique. Snitker believes he will be ready by Friday.
Reds 1B Joey Votto was ejected in the first inning for arguing a called third strike. It was the eighth of his career and the first since Sept. 9, 2015. Dixon took Votto’s place and went 1 for 2.
Braves LF Ronald Acuna Jr., sidelined since May 28 with a left knee sprain and bruises to his knee and lower back [url=http://www.dolphinsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-daniel-kilgore-jersey]Dolphins Daniel Kilgore Jersey[/url] , will likely be reinstated from the disabled list before Friday’s game at St. Louis. He went 3 for 11 in his past three rehab games with Triple-A Gwinnett. … Atlanta RHP Mike Soroka was transferred to the 60-day disabled list. Soroka, a prized young starter, is on the DL for the second time with shoulder inflammation.
Reds: RHP Anthony DeSclafini (3-1, 4.09 ERA) will try to win his fourth straight start when Cincinnati opens a four-game home series Thursday against Milwaukee.
Braves: RHP Julio Teheran (5-5, 4.52 ERA) starts Friday at St. Louis. He allowed six hits and seven runs in 4 2/3 innings of his previous start, a 7-5 loss to the Orioles last Saturday.
Marlon Mack spent his rookie season serving as the understudy to one of pro football’s greatest rushers.
This year, he’s playing the lead in Indianapolis.
The 22-year-old running back got his big break when the Colts let 35-year-old Frank Gore walk away in free agency, handed Mack the starting job and offered him the chance to become a star on football’s biggest stage. It’s up to Mack to prove he can live up to the billing.
”You’ve just got to go out there and make a play every chance you get,” Mack said.
History suggests Mack thrives under the bright lights.
The Florida native was a first-team all-state selection in high school and was chosen to play in the Semper Fidelis All-America Bowl.
In college, he set the American Athletic Conference’s freshman rushing record with 1,041 yards, followed his conference rookie of the year season with a school-record 1,381 yards in 2015 and finished his career as South Florida’s career leader in yards rushing (3,609) and touchdown runs (32). He was the first player in school history to earn three straight all-conference selections and the first to post three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.
Mack’s resume coupled with the rave reviews from his coaches helped persuade Colts general manager Chris Ballard to draft Mack in the fourth round.
He didn’t disappoint in Indy, either.
Despite hurting his shoulder in training camp [url=http://www.pantherscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-donte-jackson-jersey]Cheap Donte Jackson Jersey[/url] , an injury that required offseason surgery, Mack played in 14 games and rushed 93 times for 358 yards, caught 21 passes for 225 yards, scored four TDs and showed flashes that he could be the successor to Gore.
His results made Ballard decide not to re-sign the league’s fifth-leading rusher and to transition to a guy who learned plenty from Gore.
”The first thing he taught me is don’t dwell on the past,” Mack said. ”Just put on the pads and get ready for the next play.”
Mack also can rely on a potentially stronger supporting cast for help.
Veteran Robert Turbin has been a successful short-yardage specialist for the Colts even though he missed 10 games last year with a dislocated left elbow. Turbin may be used differently when he returns from a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.
”Guys are going to make mistakes and most of the time when things happen around the league, none of it is purposeful,” Turbin said when the Colts reported to training camp last week. ”In the NFL, they have very stringent rules and we have to obviously know what it is that we’re doing, and we have to hold ourselves accountable to that.”
While Turbin sits, Christine Michael may provide the experienced voice. He’s trying to earn a roster spot on his fifth team in six years as he recovers from an undisclosed season-ending injury.
Another option is Josh Ferguson, who has been around longer than Mack but has seen less action and will be fighting off two draft picks to make the team.
Fourth-round Nyheim Hines lined up in the backfield, slot and on kick returns at North Carolina State and could be in all three places again this year. Coach Frank Reich had a similarly sized speedster in Philadelphia, Darren Sproles, and envisions Hines in that spot.
Fifth-round pick Jordan Wilkins is bigger, 6-foot-1 and 216 pounds, and has been so impressive at camp that Reich singled out Wilkins on Wednesday [url=http://www.cincinnatibengalsteamonline.com/a.j.-green-jersey]A.J. Green Jersey[/url] , acknowledging he’s been better than hype.
Reich thinks it’s a perfect script to challenge defenses.
”What I’ve seen is these guys are all good in pass protection, even Nyheim being a little bit smaller,” Reich said. ”He’s willing to (block) and he knows what he’s doing and has the right mindset. What I like is the versatility of our players. Then, we just have to see who has that knack with the ball in their hands to make guys miss (and) to break tackles.”
What the roster lacks is a proven workhorse. Gore logged more carries during his three seasons in Indy (784) than the Colts’ six backs at camp have combined (714).
But with Mack finally getting a shot at his dream role, he plans to deliver with a breakthrough performance.
”I know I can do 10 times better (than last season),” Mack said. ”I feel like I can be that explosive guy, come out here, make plays and help my team get W’s.”
NOTES: The Colts activated left tackle Anthony Castonzo (hamstring) from the non-football injury list – just in time for the most physical practice of camp. Reich said afterward that practice would continue to have live hitting throughout the remaining 2 weeks in Westfield, a northern suburb of Indianapolis. … It took Andrew Luck one week to get his timing down with Pro Bowl receiver T.Y. Hilton. How did it happen so quickly? ”It’s like when you wake up and brush your teeth, it’s easy for us, man,” Hilton said.
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