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Reds in danger of falling out of contention
CINCINNATI (NOEY KUPCHAN/STATS/AP) -- While the Atlanta Braves' winning streak just came to an end in embarrassing fashion, they may be able to start a new one Thursday night.
Atlanta heads to Cincinnati for the first of four against the slumping Reds, who are in danger of falling completely out of the postseason race.
The Braves (66-61) had outscored opponents 33-14 during a five-game run before Wednesday's 3-2 walkoff loss at Pittsburgh. Atlanta blew a 2-0 lead in the eighth inning and came undone in the ninth, when Justin Upton dropped a fly ball after nearly colliding with brother B.J. in the outfield.
"That ball was literally right between where both of us could get to it. It was just perfect placement," Justin Upton told MLB's official website. "We can't stop. Games like this are going to happen. We've just got to keep our heads up and keep going."
The Braves will try to bounce back behind Julio Teheran (11-9, 3.06 ERA). The right-hander gave up two runs over six innings in Saturday's 4-3 victory over Oakland to snap a career-worst three-start losing streak.
While Teheran ranks among the major league leaders with a 1.95 ERA at home, he's 2-5 with a 5.64 ERA over his last seven road starts. He threw eight innings of three-hit ball in a 1-0, 10-inning home win over Cincinnati on April 27 in his second career appearance in the series.
Atlanta took all three meetings from the Reds that weekend while surrendering five runs. However, the Braves have dropped 18 of their last 25 at Great American Ball Park.
Cincinnati (61-66) returns home after closing a 1-6 road trip with five straight defeats. The Reds fell 7-3 at St. Louis on Wednesday, dropping to 2-10 over their last 12.
"Miserable road trip," manager Bryan Price said. "It's hard to say something that will make sense to anybody that's a Reds fan. ... I know these guys expect a lot more. We all do. We have to stay together. These are the times that can break the spirit of a club. We can't allow that to happen."
With Homer Bailey on the disabled list, Cincinnati will call up 23-year-old David Holmberg (0-0, 16.88) for his second start of the year. His first one didn't go very well, allowing five runs and three homers over 2 2-3 innings against the Chicago Cubs on July 8.
"Young guys trying to establish themselves sometimes tend to get out of character," Price said. "I certainly don't think we saw the best he has to offer, by any means, in that one start."
The left-hander went 1-2 with a 4.26 ERA over his last six minor league outings with Triple-A Louisville. He'll need to be especially careful against Evan Gattis and Justin Upton, who are slugging .741 and .667, respectively, against southpaws.
Upton, batting .378 with four homers and 15 RBIs during an 11-game hitting streak, has posted a .415 average in 15 games against Cincinnati since the start of 2012.
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman has also hit the Reds well, going 13 for 37 with 11 RBIs during a nine-game stretch in the series. Freeman is batting .449 in his last 14 overall.