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Cincinnati Reds' Tucker Barnhart, Joey Votto homer as Anthony DeSclafani stops Atlanta Braves

By Jeff Wallner, The Sports Xchange
Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Anthony Desclafani. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/bef9fab97920f0ff42c1c0ecd6d03062/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Anthony Desclafani. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

CINCINNATI -- Anthony DeSclafani is a silent assassin.

It never seems like the Reds right-hander is dominating a game, until you look up at the scoreboard.

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"He just keeps throwing strikes," said catcher Tucker Barnhart. "It's overwhelming for hitters. He doesn't give them a chance to breathe."

DeSclafani allowed two runs over eight innings, and Barnhart and Joey Votto homered, lifting Cincinnati to a 6-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves in the finale of a three-game series on Wednesday afternoon at Great American Ball Park.

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DeSclafani (5-0) recorded his fifth straight quality start allowing two runs and eight hits with no walks. He is undefeated since being reinstated from the disabled list on June 10.

"He's 5-0, which is great," said manager Bryan Price. "but it's the quality of the starts. He does nothing to bring attention to himself, except give his team a chance to win. He has a calming influence on the rotation."

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Freddie Freeman's 17th home run, a solo shot to the opposite field in left, put the Braves ahead 1-0 in the first. But DeSclafani was in control from there.

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Freeman's blast was only the fifth homer allowed by DeSclafani in 43 innings. Four of them were solo shots.

"I didn't feel that great," DeSclafani said. "They put a lot of balls in play. I didn't have a strikeout pitch to put guys away. I still feel like I have a lot to prove."

Atlanta appeared to have DeSclafani on the ropes when Nick Markakis doubled after Freeman's homer. But, Adonis Garcia flied to right ending the inning.

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"Outstanding," Price said. "He limited it to one (run), then ends up rolling through eight innings."

Cincinnati threatened in the first inning against Braves right-hander Lucas Harrell who was facing them for the seventh time in his career, fifth as a starter. But Harrell retired the three straight batters to strand runners at first and second.

The Reds didn't threaten again until the fifth when Harrell got Votto to fly to left, again stranding runners at first and second.

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Atlanta led 2-0 after Erick Aybar doubled and scored on Chase d'Arnaud's single in the fifth.

But Cincinnati finally broke through against Harrell in the sixth when Jose Peraza singled with runners on second and third driving in two runs to tie the score 2-2.

Braves catcher A.J. Pierzynski claimed he applied the tag before Eugenio Suarez's hand swiped home plate with the second run. But a replay review lasting three minutes and 10 seconds confirmed the safe call.

Barnhart crushed his fourth home run of the season into the right field seats moments later to put Cincinnati ahead 4-2.

"The wheels came off right there," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He did his job and kept us in the ballgame for five innings. Obviously I stayed with him too long. If I knew then what I know now, it would be different."

Barnhart's blast made Price's decision making with DeSclafani much easier, and he chose to allow the right-hander to bat for himself with a two-run lead.

"If Tucker doesn't hit the homer, I might have to take him out," Price said.

Harrell (1-2) allowed four earned runs and seven hits in six innings.

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Votto hit a two-run homer off Ian Krol in the seventh inning to increase the Reds' lead to 6-2. It was Votto's 16th homer this season.

"It's a different place," Snitker said of Great American Ball Park. "We knew that. Every ball that goes in the air, you think it's going to go out."

Krol allowed two runs and four hits in an inning of work.

Braves third baseman Adonis Garcia homered for the third straight game with his seventh of the season leading off the ninth inning against Ross Ohlendorf. It was the 19th homer allowed by the Reds' bullpen this year.

But the Braves failed to rally and DeSclafani maintained a clean slate.

"I still feel like I have a lot to prove," DeSclafani said. "By now, other guys have a lot of starts under their belt. I'm trying to play catch-up."

NOTES: Reds RHP Anthony DeSclafani improved to 3-0 with 1.93 ERA in four starts this season at Great American Ball Park. ... Braves 1B Freddie Freeman now has homered in 22 different parks. ... Reds RHP Keyvius Sampson is expected to start Saturday's game against the Diamondbacks. ... Reds manager Bryan Price said if all goes well with his next one or two rehab starts, RHP Homer Bailey could return to the rotation by the end of the month. ... Braves C A.J. Pierzynski started behind the plate on Wednesday. Anthony Recker started the first two games of the series. ... Reds LF Adam Duvall was given a day off. Jose Peraza started in left field.

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