The Reds' struggles continue against playoff contenders. Can they reverse the trend in Atlanta?
By ASSOCIATED PRESSFS Ohio
As Freddie Freeman continues to show why he's headed to the All-Star game, another of
Atlanta's talented young players is again faced with missing time due to his health.
While Freeman looks to stay hot, Jason Heyward will sit Friday night when the
Braves face the visiting
Hours after Freeman held off Los Angeles rookie phenom Yasiel Puig to win the fan voting for the final spot on NL All-Star roster, the first baseman had three hits and four RBIs in a 6-5 win over Cincinnati (51-41) on Thursday.
"He's riding high," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "The All-Star selection, he has everything going for him right now. It's probably a pleasure and a joy to be Freddie Freeman right now."
Among the major league leaders with 60 RBIs, Freeman has batted .351 with 12 RBIs in his last 15 contests for the NL East-leading Braves (53-39). He's 7 for 16 with seven RBIs in four games versus Cincinnati after going 1 for 15 in his previous four.
Heyward singled in two at-bats in the series opener but left when he strained his hamstring sliding into third base. Struggling with a .227 average, seven homers and 21 RBIs, Heyward is expected to be re-evaluated Friday.
"No pop. Just pain," said Heyward, who missed 22 games earlier this season after undergoing an emergency appendectomy.
Winners of four of six, the Braves hand the ball Kris Medlen (6-8, 3.45 ERA). The right-hander posted a 2.50 ERA while going 5-1 in six previous starts before allowing a career-high seven runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 7-3 loss at Philadelphia on Sunday.
He has the same 3-4 record at home and away, but has a 2.83 ERA at Turner Field compared to 4.04 on the road.
Medlen gave up two runs in seven innings and didn't get a decision in a 5-4 loss at Cincinnati on May 7.
The Reds' Bronson Arroyo (7-7, 3.55) has a much bigger disparity between home and away starts, going 6-2 with a 2.58 ERA in 12 starts at Great American Ball Park and 1-5 with a 5.70 ERA in six on the road. He's allowed 12 runs and three homers over 9 2-3 innings while dropping his last two away from home.
Arroyo's past two starts came at home, as he posted a 3.00 ERA while splitting those decisions. The right-hander gave up three runs on two homers in six innings of a 3-1 loss to Seattle on Sunday.
He's 0-1 with a 5.91 ERA in his last four starts against Atlanta. Arroyo yielded four runs in five innings of a 7-4 loss to the Braves on May 6.
Brandon Phillips had two hits with two RBIs and Shin-Soo Choo extended his hitting streak to nine games with two more Thursday for Cincinnati, loser of four of five overall and six of eight at Turner Field.
Choo has batted .405 in his last nine and is 1 for 3 with a homer off Medlen.
Atlanta's Justin Upton is 8 for 17 with five doubles and six RBIs in his past four games, and 6 for his last 13 versus Arroyo.