Braves pitcher Julio Teheran grimaces after a failed bunt attempt that also hit his hand during Saturday's game against the Reds.
Photo: AP photo/John Bazemore
Photo: AP photo/John Bazemore

Gennett’s ninth-inning slam costs Braves in 11-8 loss to Reds

Two innings did the Braves in.

After watching three Reds homer in the sixth inning Friday night, the Braves’ fate was again sealed by the long ball. What looked to be a Scooter Gennett insurance grand slam proved important, costing the Braves an 11-8 defeat to the Reds on Saturday. The team stranded 22 runners on base the past two nights.

The Braves have lost five consecutive games at home, and 10 of their last 13. Since reaching .500, the Braves have lost 22 of 31 games, the most in the National League in that span.

Teheran, as R.A. Dickey the day before him, started the night generating strikeouts. Teheran’s slider was particularly sharp, and he struck out four of the first six batters swinging.

For once, it wasn’t homers that haunted Teheran. Cincinnati struck for three runs in the fourth. Teheran was charged with just two after Ender Inciarte overran a ball in center, something he attributed to the ball taking an unexpected hop. Teheran then walked Gennett and surrendered three consecutive singles.

Gennett seemingly punctuated the win with his third grand slam of the season off Braves reliever Jim Johnson in the eighth inning. But the homer proved to be the difference after Matt Adams clobbered a three-run pinch hit homer in the ninth to pull the Braves within 11-7.

Johnson was recently removed from the closer role. Snitker said he used him in the ninth in an effort to “get him right.” Johnson has an 8.78 ERA over his past 16 apperances.

Snitker wants Johnson to continue working through his woes.

“He’s been a big part of the bullpen, and we need him,” Snitker said. “Because he’s one of those guys who never turns the ball down.”

The Braves had 15 hits to Cincinnati’s 14, but still couldn’t come up in clutch situations until Adams’ swing. With two on in the ninth, Freeman singled home Dansby Swanson to pull to within three. But Matt Kemp grounded out to third where Eugenio Suarez tagged the base to end it.

“Real crazy,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Just tough, those runs they got, it can come back to hurt you, especially when you mount a rally like that ... I thought it was going to be the greatest comeback in the sport. They never gave up, battling back and put ourselves in position.”

While Teheran managed to mitigate the damage, the Braves offense didn’t find its groove until after his exit. The Braves had scored eight runs during their four-game home skid prior to Saturday. They added five in the final three innings, but it was too little too late after the Reds’ offensive outburst.

Teheran finished with six innings, allowing four runs, striking out seven and walking three. That came on the heels of Teheran’s seven shutout innings at Coors Field on Aug. 14. 

He lost his fifth-straight decision, the longest streak of his career. Teheran’s lost nine consecutive decisions at home, setting a new Atlanta franchise record. But he’s staying optimistic.

“I think that I did really good,” Teheran said. “Really coming off that career outing, I tried my best and that’s all I try (to do) every time I get the ball ... I know I got the loss today, but I felt pretty good today. I felt my pitches were good other than a couple of mistakes ... I don’t remember the last time I had really good back-to-back outings. We have a month and a half to go, and that’s how I want to finish out the season.”

“All in all, it was better than his line was for sure,” Snitker said.

Reds starter Robert Stephenson turned in his second consecutive solid outing. He’d make just three starts on the year before Saturday, along with 18 relief appearances. After holding the Marlins to a run in 5 2/3 innings Aug. 2, he limited the Braves to two runs, one earned, over five innings.

The Braves stranded a pair of runners in first two innings. Freddie Freeman and Kemp both reached base on errors in the first. Kurt Suzuki led off the second with a double, Dansby Swanson drew a walk, but neither time the Braves could capitalize.

Suzuki added a two-run homer in the seventh. He’s hit safely in 21 of his last 24 starts, with 10 homers since June 14.

Atlanta had a two-out scoring chance in the fifth. Kemp singled and Suzuki walked, but Ozzie Albies grounded out. Albies later doubled with two outs in the seventh, but Swanson struck out.

Brandon Phillips knotted the score at 1-1 with a laser homer to left to lead-off the third. He has six hits in four games against the team that employed him from 2006-2016.

“They’re just another team,” Phillips said. “And I just go out there and try to be professional and play the game the best way I know how.”

In the fourth, Inciarte added the Braves’ second run with a sacrifice fly to drive home Ozzie Albies, who was hit by a pitch to start the inning. Albies had advanced to third when the Reds made their third error, misplaying Teheran’s sacrifice bunt.

The Braves will try to avoid a sweep Sunday with Sean Newcomb on the hill. 

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