The excuse was there if Braves right-hander Matt Wisler wanted to take it and, really, it wouldn’t be so much an excuse as an explanation for his last two rough outings.
The Reds got to Wisler for three home runs on the way to an 8-2 victory on Monday in cozy Great American Ball Park. In Wisler’s previous outing the White Sox roughed him up while hitting two home runs in their hitter-friendly park.
But Wisler said offensively-biased ballparks aren’t his problem.
“I’ve given up just as many home runs at home as I have on the road,” Wisler said. “The thing for me is I’ve got to get better and more consistent at keeping the ball down in the zone, where guys can’t just get lifted on it.”
The Reds clubbed three homers in the fourth inning against Wisler to turn a one-run deficit into a a 5-1 lead. He’s allowed eight home runs in 43 innings on the road and eight in 68 2/3 at Turner Field.
The Reds touched Wisler (4-9) for six runs (five earned) over five-plus innings. His next scheduled start is Saturday at Colorado, another tough place for pitchers.
“I can’t keep having outings like this,” Wisler said. “It’s frustrating. I’ve got to go out there and put a good outing together.”
The Braves (32-61) lost for the third time in four games since the All-Star break. They are 8-15 since their season-long six-game winning streak.
Good defense helped Wisler face the minimum nine batters through three innings. He snagged a hard liner by Joey Votto for the final out in the first inning, catcher Anthony Recker threw out Jay Bruce trying to steal second base in the second and Reds pitcher Brandon Finnegan grounded into a double play to end the third.
Jeff Francoeur’s RBI double staked Wisler to a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning. He gave the lead right back in the bottom of the inning when Zack Cozart homered to left field on his second pitch.
The ball park’s cozy dimensions contributed to that homer. But then, after Billy Hamilton followed Cozart with a single, Joey Votto hammered Wisler’s fastball several rows into the right-field stands.
“Once the ball got up, they started teeing off on me,” Wisler said.
With two outs, Eugenio Suarez added another two-run home run on a line drive that stayed inside the foul pole in left field. Just like that the Braves were down 5-1 and they didn’t have a response against lefty Brandon Finnegan (5-7)
Wisler had a strong finish to his rookie season in 2015 and was good through May of this year. He’s been inconsistent since then with an 8.91 ERA over 43 1/3 innings in his last eight starts.
“It’s a learning experience for these guys,” Francoeur said. “When they do get hit like that, you want to see them go back out and put some zeroes on the board. That’s kind of what I told him tonight. After 5-1, you could see he was kind of down on himself and I just kind of told him to pick his head up. I think he pitches really well but there are a couple mistakes that hurt him. The long balls hurt him. If he can cut down on that, he will be fine.”
The Braves got within 5-2 on Adonis Garcia’s lead-off homer in the sixth inning against Finnegan. Freddie Freeman followed with a double and Nick Markakis singled, prompting Reds manager Bryan Price to call on right-hander Blake Wood from the bullpen to face Francoeur.
Wood stuck out Francoeur before Ender Inciarte hit a hard line drive at third baseman Eugenio Suarez, who saved at least one run with the catch. Wood stuck out Recker to end the rally.
“Ender smoked that one right at the third baseman, which was tough,” Francoeur said. “I thought that was our chance, and then they scored on a couple tack-on runs and after that it’s kind of tough. But I thought we fought them hard.”