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CHC@CIN: Leake hurls seven innings of two-run ball

The Reds' starting rotation hasn't provided a quality start in six straight outings. And yet the Reds have gone 4-2 in that span, averaging five runs a game.

Twice in the last four games, including Tuesday night, they've forged late-inning rallies to storm off as winners.

When the starters don't have it, the offense has picked them up.

Mike Leake will look to give the offense some support on Wednesday as he takes the mound against Mike Minor and the struggling Braves, who have gone 7-12 since opening the season 12-1.

Leake has a respectable 4.15 ERA this season but has struggled with consistency, putting together two quality starts in six tries. His last two outings have combined to last 8 2/3 innings.

Not known as a strikeout pitcher, the 25-year-old righty will have the benefit of facing a Braves lineup that entered Tuesday leading the National League with 287 strikeouts, fanning more than once per inning on average.

Reds reliever Alfredo Simon struck out six batters in two innings Monday night.

"If you want to strike out somebody, this is the club to do it," manager Dusty Baker said.

For the Braves, Minor has allowed three runs or fewer in five of his six starts this season. While he's only walked five batters in 38 2/3 innings, he's also allowed five home runs, which have cost him in his last two outings.

He allowed just three hits in seven innings against the Mets his last start, but two of them left the park. The Mets rallied late to prevent Minor from winning his fourth game of the season.

"It was a roller coaster really," manager Fredi Gonzalez said afterward. "You forget about how well Mike Minor pitched because of what happened in the last [three] innings."

Reds: Choo still hot
Anyone waiting for Shin-Soo Choo to cool off will have to keep waiting. The Reds' center fielder homered twice in Tuesday's 5-4 win over the Braves, including a walk-off blast in the bottom of the ninth against closer Craig Kimbrel, who allowed three home runs all of last year.

Choo has seven homers this season, his first with the Reds. He didn't hit his seventh homer last season until June 28. He's also swinging the bat a .333 clip. On May 7 of last year, he was hitting just .220.

Choo has spent all 33 games this season at the top of the batting order.

Braves: Upton followed by Upton
In an attempt to spark B.J. Upton, who entered Tuesday's game hitting .143, Gonzalez moved him to the No. 2 spot in the lineup, hoping he would see more fastballs in front of his brother, Justin, who has 12 homers this season.

B.J. Upton reached base twice Tuesday, just the second time in 16 games he's done that.

"The player we're seeing right now is not even one-tenth of the player he is, or has been or is capable of being," Gonzalez said. "I really believe that."

Worth noting
• Jason Heyward took batting practice Tuesday, a good sign in his recovery. He hasn't played since having an emergency appendectomy on April 22.

• Braves catcher Brian McCann had some strong words regarding shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who was moved to the leadoff spot Tuesday: "I think when it's all said and done after this year, we're going to be talking about him as one of the top shortstops in baseball."

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