Atlanta (31-15) at Cincinnati (24-22)

Cloudy Currently: Cincinnati, OH
Temp: 67° F
  • Game info: 7:10 pm EDT Thu May 22, 2003
  • TV: SPSO, FSOH
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Cincinnati Reds look to finish off an unexpected three-game sweep over the Atlanta Braves as the two teams meet at Great American Ball Park.

Not many teams have been able to slow down Atlanta, but Cincinnati’s power-hitting pair of Austin Kearns and Adam Dunn have been doing just that in the first two games of this series.

Kearns smacked a bases-loaded double to complete a six-run rally, while Dunn hit his major league-leading 17th homer in Wednesday night’s 9-3 victory.

“I don’t really take a step back and look at it,” said Kearns, who has driven in seven runs in the first two games of the series. “I’m just having so much fun. We’re winning, this is a great group of guys, and the fans are getting into it.”

Dunn connected on a pinch-hit three-run homer which extended the Reds’ streak to 15 consecutive games with a homer. It’s the third-longest streak in club history—the 1956 squad homered in 21 in a row, and the 1955 team went 17 straight games with a longball.

The Reds have won 11 of their last 15 games, a streak that includes six wins over St. Louis and now two over the Braves.

By dropping the first two games, the Braves lost back-to-back games for the first time since April 11-12. Atlanta had won its last 10 series, a streak that translated into the best record in baseball.

Atlanta has been nearly unbeatable when it gets the early lead. The Braves had won the last 16 games when they scored first, and were 20-1 overall with the game’s first lead.

STANDINGS: Braves - 1st place, NL East. Reds - tied for 2nd place, 1 1/2 GB, NL Central.

BRAVES PROBABLE STARTER: Shane Reynolds (3-1, 4.99 ERA). Atlanta has won four straight games in which the veteran right-hander has started, and Reynolds has earned the decision in two of them, including his last outing. He allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings of a 12-2 win at San Diego on May 17. Reynolds has made 17 career starts against the Reds, going 4-8 with a 4.26 ERA.

REDS PROBABLE STARTER: Ryan Dempster (1-3, 6.85 ERA). The veteran right-hander is seeking his first win since beating the Astros 2-1 on April 8. In his last start, Dempster was on the short end of a 12-3 defeat at Milwaukee on May 16, allowing five runs and seven hits over five innings. Dempster has not fared well against the Braves in his career, going 1-7 with a 4,94 ERA in 12 career starts.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Braves - Gary Sheffield, .353 avg.; Andruw Jones, 11 HRs and 41 RBIs; Rafael Furcal, 44 runs and 9 SBs. Reds - Jose Guillen, .330 avg.; Dunn, 17 HRs; Kearns, 44 RBIs; Aaron Boone, 34 runs and 7 SBs.

SEASON SERIES: Reds, 2-0.

STREAKS AND NOTES: Braves - OF Andruw Jones is hitting .333 (10-for-30) with two home runs and six RBIs against RHP Dempster in his career. … Left-handed batters are hitting just .189 against RHP Reynolds this season. … SS Furcal is 6-for-20 in his career against RHP Dempster. Reds - 1B Casey is just 2-for-10 in his career against RHP Reynolds. … RHP Dempster has walked 41 batters and struck out just 26 in 46 innings of work this season. … SS Barry Larkin left Wednesday’s game after the fourth inning with a strained right calf. Larkin, 39, was on the disabled list from April 14 to May 5 after he strained his other calf. He’ll have tests on Thursday, and the Reds will decide whether to put him back on the disabled list or let him try to get healthy while playing.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Braves - 16-8 on the road; Reds - 15-9 at home.

INJURIES: Braves - RHP Paul Byrd (elbow), 15-day DL. Reds - SS Larkin (calf), day-to-day; OF Russell Branyan (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Jimmy Haynes (back), 15-day DL; RHP Luke Prokopec (shoulder), 60-day DL.

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Starting Pitchers

S. Reynolds Ari vs. R. Dempster ChC
11-9 Record 3-7
5.43 ERA 6.54
94 K 84
59 BB 70
1.49 WHIP 1.76