Comeback dismissed with one swing
Braves rally in eighth for four runs, but fall just short
ATLANTA -- If Atlanta is trailing heading into the bottom of the ninth, the large video board beyond the center-field wall at Turner Field shows highlights of a previous comeback win over the current opponent. The caption at the end reads, "We have done it before. We can do it again."
When a David Weathers offering leapt off the bat of Andruw Jones with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, many on the field and in the stands thought the Braves had done it again.
It was not to be, however. Jones, the potential winning run, flied out to deep left, allowing the Reds to escape with a 6-5 win that they almost gave away with two shaky final innings. Atlanta has lost two straight to the Reds, after going on a five-game winning streak.
"He got it off the end a little," Braves manager Bobby Cox said about Jones' final pop fly. "If he had pulled it a little more, it would have been it. I thought it had a chance until I saw the outfielder out there."
The performance of Reds starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo hardly set the stage for any late-inning drama.
Arroyo struck out the side in order in the first and continued to dominate during all of his seven innings. Only one runner reached scoring position against Arroyo, and he tied a season high with nine strikeouts.
The Braves managed just three hits against him, but walked away frustrated that they didn't get more. Arroyo changed speeds well, keeping Atlanta's hitters off-balance by mixing a changeup that once registered 68 mph and a fastball that reached the low 90s.
"He's a comfortable at-bat," Chipper Jones said of Arroyo's lack of overpowering pitches. "But he's one of those guys where you're comfortable for four at-bats and at the end of the night you're wondering how you're 0-for-4."
Atlanta's best chance to score against Arroyo came in the fifth, when Kelly Johnson led off with a double and moved to third on a one-out bloop single by starting pitcher Jo-Jo Reyes.
Arroyo nipped the outside corner to strike out Willie Harris looking for the second out, and Edgar Renteria flied out to the warning track to right field to end the inning.
Reyes' single was Atlanta's last hit off Reyes -- the only other baserunner Arroyo allowed came in the sixth, when he hit Brian McCann.
"We had an opportunity -- a guy on third with less than two outs and we didn't get him in," Chipper Jones said. "At the time, you don't think much of it, but it would have been a big run."
The Reds seemingly ended it in the seventh, when they scored four runs against Reyes and reliever Peter Moylan.
Reyes' second Major League start was much better than his first, when he lasted just three innings in his debut at San Diego earlier this month. Reyes pitched four scoreless innings Tuesday before allowing two runs in the fifth and hitting a wall in the seventh.
"I started to get a little tired," Reyes said. "But I'm a competitor, of course, so I wanted to go out there and get out of it."
Reyes left with one out in the seventh and runners on first and second, but Moylan couldn't keep Atlanta's deficit to two runs. After walking Keppinger to load the bases, Moylan allowed consecutive two-run singles to Ken Griffey, Jr. and Brandon Phillips to make it 6-0.
Reyes could have been pitching for his job. When John Smoltz returns from the disabled list on Wednesday, one of Atlanta's current starters, likely Reyes or Kyle Davies will be bumped from the rotation. Davies was unable to record an out in his start on Monday night.
"That's not up to me," Reyes said. "I've just got to go out and take every day as another day."
The Braves never got to Arroyo, and his leaving the game after the seventh due to a pitch count of 99 was a welcome sight, especially because the Reds' bullpen had a 4.73 ERA entering the game.
Mike Stanton, a former Brave, was the Reds' bullpen's latest culprit. He got two easy outs, then allowed what seemed to be an innocent bloop single to Chipper Jones to keep the inning alive.
The hit didn't prove to be so innocent. Andruw Jones followed with a 416-foot homer to left, and Johnson followed three batters later with a two-run triple. That ended Stanton's night and the Braves' rally for the time being, as Jarrod Saltalamacchia lined out to shortstop to end the inning.
"We staged a comeback late," Johnson said. "But in a game like that, with Jo-Jo out there -- and I thought he threw really well -- you've got to get runs."
Atlanta added another two-out run in the ninth. Renteria reached on a fielder's choice, moved to second on defensive indifference and scored on Chipper Jones' single up the middle.
When Andruw Jones made contact with the next pitch, the fans still remaining at Turner Field erupted. Standing on first, however, Chipper Jones knew his slugging teammate just missed it.
"I can usually tell from the side view when he gets it," Chipper Jones said. "I knew he got the first one, but I didn't think he got the second one. I was hoping a mosquito flew in the left fielder's eye or something. That was about the only way that was going to turn out any good for us."
Jeff Lutz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.