Puig’s long homer helps Reds beat Braves 7-6
Puig hit a two-run homer in the first inning off the facade of the second deck in left-center field, and the Reds wasted an early lead and then rallied to beat the Atlanta Braves 7-6 Tuesday night.
José Peraza had his first RBIs since homering on opening day, and Tucker Barnhart homered for the Reds, who have won four of five following a four-game losing streak.
A crowd of about 50 fans, mostly teenagers, occupied seats in the right field corner and chanted “We want Puig!” before the outfielder took the field for the first inning. Many waved Puig-oriented signs, one waved a flag of Puig’s native Cuba and some wore horse headgear, a reference to his “Wild Horse” nickname.
“I was surprised to see the fans in right field cheering for me,” Puig said. “I want to thank them for supporting me and my teammates. I saw the horses, the Cuban flag. There must be a lot of Cuban people in Cincinnati. I have to meet some of them to find a good Cuban restaurant.”
Cincinnati led 3-0 in the fifth inning, fell behind 4-3 in the sixth, then scored four runs in the bottom half.
“We had a lot of good at bats,” Reds manager David Bell said.
Peraza hit a two-run double off Kevin Gausman (1-2) for a 5-4 lead, Jessie Biddle forced in a run with a bases-loaded walk to pinch-hitter Phillip Ervin and Puig hit a sacrifice fly against Wes Parsons.
Robert Stephenson (2-0) struck out two batters with a runner on third to end the sixth.
Atlanta scored on RBI doubles by Charlie Culberson against Wandy Peralta in the seventh and Dansby Swanson off Jared Hughes in the eighth. Raisel Iglesias allowed Matt Joyce’s leadoff double in the ninth, then retired Ozzie Albies, Josh Donaldson and Freddie Freeman for his fifth save in six chances.
Cincinnati scored its most runs since routing Miami 14-0 on April 9. The Reds entered last in the major leagues in batting average at .197.
Joey Votto walked three times and singled in his first game after missing two games due to back tightness.
Swanson also tripled for the Braves.
Sonny Gray tied his season high with nine strikeouts but tired in the middle innings. He allowed four runs – three earned – and six hits in 5 1/3 innings as his ERA rose from 2.79 to 3.28. He is 0-3 in five starts in his first season since the Reds acquired him from the New York Yankees.
“He didn’t make many mistakes,” Freeman said. “It’s hard to be perfect, but he was pretty much perfect until the sixth.”
Gausman (1-2) gave up six runs — five earned — and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings.
“His velocity was spiking up and down,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “That was one of those games you grind through. He gave us a chance to win.”
Puig’s third home run of the season went 432 feet and was his first in Cincinnati this season, and Barnhart homered leading off the fourth.
Snitker said LHP Max Fried (3-0, 1.38) will start Friday’s series opener against visiting Colorado. The Reds have flipped the starts of right-handers Anthony DeSclafani (0-1, 5.59) and Luis Castillo (2-1), slotting Castillo will pitch against Atlanta on Thursday and DeSclafani at St. Louis on Friday.
Cincinnati batters had a season-high nine walks, which tied the Braves’ most this season.
Braves: RHP Mike Foltynewicz, who hasn’t pitched this season because of a right elbow bone spur, is expected to start Saturday against Colorado.
Reds: OF Matt Kemp went on the 10-day IL with a broken left rib sustained when crashing into the outfield wall at San Diego on Sunday.
Braves: RHP Mike Soroka (0-1, 1.80) is scheduled to make his first big league start on Wednesday against Cincinnati, with RHP Tanner Roark (1-0, 3.60) starting for the Reds. It will be Roark’s 17th start against Atlanta, which has a .231 average against him.