Reds’ Harvey hopes to stay strong facing nemesis Braves

Cincinnati’s Matt Harvey will try to build on the momentum from his last start, but he’ll have to do it against a team that has handled the right-hander, even when he was in his top form.

Harvey (2-5, 5.66 ERA) will start the second game of a three-game series against the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday. The Braves will counter with veteran Anibal Sanchez (3-1, 2.55).

The Braves won the series opener 5-4 in 11 innings on Monday to end Cincinnati’s seven-game winning streak. Atlanta leads the season series 3-2.

“It’s starting to come around,” Harvey said. “We have been watching a lot of video, making sure everything stays the same throughout the start.”

Harvey defeated the Chicago Cubs 6-2 in his last start and allowed two runs in six innings, striking out six. That broke a three-game losing streak and improved his record to 2-3 with Cincinnati, which he joined on April 8 in a trade that sent catcher Devin Mesoraco to the New York Mets.

“(The Cubs game) was a lot closer,” Harvey said. “It’s trusting your mechanics and the work that goes in between starts.”

But in 13 career starts against Atlanta, Harvey is 3-7 with a 5.27 ERA. He appeared in two games against the Braves while with the Mets and went 0-1 with a 12.37 ERA. In his only start against Atlanta in 2018, Harvey allowed six runs in six innings.

Sanchez has been the biggest surprise of the season for Atlanta. Picked up late in spring training, the right-hander has provided consistency in the back end of the rotation. After missing a month with a hamstring injury, Sanchez has made five starts and gone 2-1 with a 3.18 ERA.

He was roughed up a bit at Toronto in last start, giving up four runs on five hits and four walks in five innings.

Sanchez has not faced the Reds this season. In four career starts against Cincinnati, Sanchez is 2-2 with a 2.52 ERA. He threw a two-hit shutout against the Reds in 2015, the last time he’s defeated them.

Atlanta continues to show the ability to produce in the late innings and lead the National League with 141 runs in the seventh or later. On Monday the Braves scored the tying run in the seventh and won it in the 11th when second baseman Ozzie Albies delivered the game-winning homer.

It was the 17th homer for Albies and the first walkoff homer of his career.

Albies is batting .545 (12-for-22) during the four games of the current homestand. He had two doubles to go with his homer on Tuesday and leads the league with 44 extra-base hits.

“He’s starting to swing the bat,” manager Brian Snitker said. “He’s been a real stellar guy for us. No doubt he’s aggressive. That makes him what he is. He’s having a heckuva year.”

Cincinnati right fielder Scott Schebler had a double and a homer in the series opener. He has hit safely in eight of his last nine games and 17 of his last 18. Schebler missed three games in the last series while on the bereavement list.