Aaron Harang’s return to Cincinnati was marred by a mental lapse by the veteran pitcher, and the Braves’ recent five-game winning streak and offensive resurgence are starting to feel like fading memories.
Failing to cover first base on an infield single, Harang contributed to his demise in a three-run fourth inning that propelled the Reds to a 5-3 win Sunday and a split of their four-game series with the Braves at Great America Ballpark.
The Braves staged a ninth-inning rally that yielded two runs before Justin Upton grounded into a bases-loaded force at second to end the game.
After winning five in a row and seven out of eight, the Braves dropped consecutive weekend games against a Reds team that had a seven-game losing streak before shutting out the Braves 1-0 on three hits Saturday.
Atlanta hitters didn’t do much better for most of Sunday, when six of their nine hits came in the final three innings after the Reds built a 4-0 lead. They trailed 5-1 before Evan Gattis led off the ninth with his 20th home run, and Jason Heyward hit a two-out RBI single.
Jonathan Broxton walked Phil Gosselin and Freddie Freeman consecutively to load the bases before Upton’s grounder.
Gattis became the second catcher in franchise history to hit at least 20 homers in each of his first two seasons, joining Earl Williams (1971-1972). Gattis had two homers as a rookie.
The Braves are 4-3 on a 10-game trip that concludes with a three-game series against the Mets beginning Tuesday. They have dropped three of their past five and scored a total of five runs in the three losses.
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