Reds spoil Jesse Chavez’s Braves return in series opener

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

The Braves lost to the Reds, 5-3, in Cincinnati to open a four-game series Thursday.

Here are five takeaways from the game:

1. The Braves used veteran reliever Jesse Chavez, promoted earlier in the day, as an opener. After playing four games in two days earlier this week, and using Kyle Wright to replace an injured Max Fried Wednesday, the Braves were shorthanded in the rotation and forced to pitch a bullpen game.

Chavez, 37, began his second stint with the Braves at the same venue in which he pitched his final game with the team back in July 2010. The right-hander allowed two runs on two hits in 2-1/3 innings. He threw 36 pitches (26 strikes).

“I loved the way Jesse threw the ball,” manager Brian Snitker said. “I thought he threw the ball really well. Stuff was good. He worked quick, threw strikes. I liked what I saw.”

2. The Braves traded Chavez on July 30, 2010. He’s since assembled a nice career as an innings eater. The team signed him to a minor-league deal in April and he found his way back to the Braves Thursday. And he hopes he’ll have further opportunities.

“It was fun to hear I was coming back to a team I left; I didn’t want to leave,” Chavez said, referencing the trade that sent him to Kansas City over a decade ago. “It was so early in my career. So many great people in my ear, behind me, that had my back from teammates to the coaches And to go, it’s like, I wonder how it could’ve been.”

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Chavez continued praising his old Braves teammates and coaches, including Bobby Cox, Roger McDowell, Tim Hudson, Peter Moylan, Eric O’Flaherty, Brian McCann, David Ross and several others.

“All of us were so together that year,” he said. “It was the first time I realized, no matter win or lose, as long as you’re all in it together, it doesn’t matter. It makes coming to the field every day that much better. So that’s what I learned from that team and I’ve tried to instill it ever since then.

“I can’t express in any amount of words what those guys meant to me and what they instilled in me that’s still around to this day. With that leadership I was around early in my career, being such a hot-headed space cadet, it helped me harness it and learn every day, which was what they were about.”

3. Luke Jackson has been the Braves’ best reliever, giving up just three runs this season entering Thursday. But he finally had a rough night. With the Braves down 2-1 in the seventh inning, Jackson issued a lead-off walk and surrendered a homer to Nick Castellanos. Jackson hadn’t allowed a run in his past 15 appearances.

The right-hander allowed two runs on three hits in the inning. His season ERA went from 1.04 to 1.67.

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

4. Four other relievers pitched Thursday. Tyler Matzek issued three walks while recording two outs. He left with two on and none out, but Edgar Santana used his sinker-slider mix to retire the next three Reds to finish the fourth. Sean Newcomb had one of his better outings lately, pitching two scoreless innings. Chris Martin allowed two hits and a run in the eighth.

5. The Braves fought back in the eighth. Second baseman Ozzie Albies homered. Ehire Adrianza’s RBI single cut the Reds’ lead to one. The Braves had the bases loaded with one out, but Reds reliever Tejay Antone struck out Ender Inciarte and got pinch-hitter Pablo Sandoval to line out to end the threat.

Former Braves reliever Brad Brach closed the game for the Reds, pitching around first baseman Freddie Freeman’s single to secure the save.

Reds 5, Braves 3 (box score)

Stat to know

25-38 (The Braves are 25-38 at Great American Ball Park, which opened in 2003.)


“I’m down for whatever. Give me the ball. I’ll pitch any day of the week. Doesn’t matter what you need. I’ll give you five, four (innings). Today I wasn’t extended as much as I wanted to be, but it’s in there to go deeper into a ballgame if they ask.” – Chavez on his role

Up next

Braves left-hander Drew Smyly (0-1, 4.70) will start Friday against Reds righty Vladimir Gutierrez (3-1, 3.86).