Atlanta Braves fans at Turner Field on Sunday could hardly be blamed if they didn’t recognize the team the Braves put on the field. Five regulars were missing from the lineup, as the Braves replacement team lost to the Cincinnati Reds 8-4. The Braves will go into the All-Star break with a six game lead in the division and will have to hope that their slew of injured players are able to recover over the four days. BJ Upton was placed on the DL shortly before the game started to make room for the return of Evan Gattis, who played first base in place of injured All-Star Freddie Freeman.
The Braves took an early lead in the second inning when backup catcher Gerald Laird’s bloop double scored backup centerfielder Reed Johnson from second. The lead would not last though, as Julio Teheran would give up four runs in the top of the third. The third started with a leadoff drag bunt single from Reds starter Tony Cingrani and things only got worse from there for Teheran. A Shin-Soo Choo single and Joey Votto double put the Reds in front 2-1, and a Jay Bruce homer made it 4-1 a deficit from which the Braves would not recover.
The Braves inched closer in the third when Andrelton Simmons scored from third on a Zach Cozart throwing error but Choo would homer to left field in the fifth to increase the Reds lead back to three runs. Dan Uggla threatened to make a game of it when his solo homer in the 8th cut the Reds lead to two but three runs in the top of the 9th off oft used reliever Anthony Varvaro essentially put the game out of reach. Simmons would homer in the 9th to make it 8-4 but that was as close as Atlanta would get.
Julio Teheran lasted 5.1 innings and displayed good control but the homeruns to Choo and Bruce were too much to overcome. The Braves go into the All-Star break with a 54-41 record and the largest division lead in baseball. In the 8th inning it was announced that Braves catcher Brian McCann had been selected to replace the injured Freddie Freeman in the All-Star game. The selection is McCann’s 7th in 8 full seasons in the big leagues. The Braves will start the second half on the road against the Chicago White Sox.