Major League Baseball

Braves, revamped bullpen go for series win over Reds

MLB5REDS (51-58) AT BRAVES (66-46)
1:20 p.m. ET; FSSO, FS-O, MLB.TV

Two-thirds of the revamped Atlanta bullpen looked good in their debut with the Braves. They will likely get another chance on Sunday when the Braves host the Cincinnati Reds (+1.5) in the finale of a four-game series.

The starting pitchers will be Cincinnati’s Sonny Gray (6-6, 3.45 ERA) against Atlanta’s Julio Teheran (6-7, 3.38).

The Braves have won two of three games in the competitive series. Atlanta won 5-4 on Saturday when Ronald Acuna Jr. delivered his first career walk-off hit with a two-out single in the 10th inning. The season series is tied at 3-3.

The Braves addressed their bullpen woes with the acquisition of three new relief pitchers at the trade deadline. Chris Martin, Mark Melancon and Shane Greene have each pitched in the series, with Greene the only one to struggle.

Martin threw a perfect inning on Friday, striking out one. He lived up to his reputation for throwing strikes; eight of his 11 pitches were strikes.

Melancon fired a scoreless inning on Saturday, working around a hit and a walk.

Greene, acquired to be the team’s new closer, did not fare as well in his debut on Saturday. Greene picked up his fourth blown save of the season when he gave up a run in the bottom of the ninth on three hits and one walk. But Greene had some bad luck; two of the hits were bloopers.

“Two balls over the infield,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “Closers have got to have a short memory. There was nothing he didn’t do. There was no hard contact.”

The Braves got a break when Luke Jackson — who had been the closer — worked a perfect 10th, striking out the side, to set up the team’s winning rally.

The Cincinnati bullpen has been solid, although five different relievers allowed six walks over the final four innings. Jared Hughes walked two in the 10th inning that proved to be the difference.

“We’ve got a good ‘pen. They’ve struggled a little more recently,” Cincinnati’s president of baseball operations Dick Williams said. “The overall performance of this group when healthy and intact and when the starters are giving us innings, they should be capable.”

Cincinnati is hopeful of getting another quality start from its rotation. Gray is 1-1 with a 2.96 ERA in his four starts since the All-Star Game. He has allowed two or fewer runs in three of those starts. The exception came in his last start on Monday against Pittsburgh, when he allowed four runs on six hits, one walk and three strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings.

Gray will be making his fourth career start against the Braves and is seeking his first win. He did not receive a decision against Atlanta on April 23 when he pitched 5 1/3 innings and allowed four runs while striking out nine.

Teheran continued his solid work in five starts during July. The veteran is 1-1 with a 1.48 ERA in 30 1/3 innings, striking out 29 and walking only seven. Teheran beat the Washington Nationals (-1) in his last start by going 6 2/3 innings and allowing two runs on seven hits, two walks and six strikeouts.

Teheran will be making his ninth career start against Cincinnati; he is 3-4 with a 4.01 ERA in 49 1/3 innings of work.

–Field Level Media

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