Braves 8, Reds 3

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ATLANTA (AP)—Chipper Jones knew the Atlanta Braves couldn’t afford to break even in their series with Cincinnati.

“This was a big series for us,” Jones said. “We couldn’t really afford to go 2-2. The bottom line is we’re a little bit closer.”

Andruw Jones hit a two-run homer and the Braves roughed up All-Star Bronson Arroyo in an 8-3 win over the Reds on Sunday.

Jeff Francoeur and Scott Thorman also hit solo homers for the Braves, who have won three straight series. Atlanta has won seven of 10 games overall, but it’s just 13-26 since May 28.

Now that the All-Star break has arrived, manager Bobby Cox hopes the Braves’ bats are still hot when the team plays next, Friday at San Diego.

“They’re all hitting good right now,” Cox said after watching Edgar Renteria, Chipper Jones, Ryan Langerhans and Thorman each finish with three hits. “They need a break, but we were swinging. A month from now, I hope we’ll still be fine.”

Arroyo (9-6) lasted just 4 1-3 innings, allowing 10 hits, six runs and three walks in his shortest start of the season. The right-hander, a first-time All-Star, struck out three.

“For the first four innings, I was getting deep in the count,” Arroyo said. “Nobody was an easy out. Nothing was clicking.”

Cincinnati, which has lost seven of eight, plays Colorado to begin a 10-game homestand on Thursday. The Reds are just 20-22 at Great American Ball Park.

“We have to go home and get regrouped,” Reds manager Jerry Narron said. “We should be able to play better at home than we have.”

Adam Dunn’s 28th homer, a three-run shot that went 450 feet to deep center, chased Braves reliever Oscar Villarreal with no outs in the sixth.

Tyler Yates allowed Austin Kearns’ broken-bat single and walked Brandon Phillips before Cox brought in left-hander Macay McBride to face pinch-hitter Ken Griffey Jr.

McBride struck out Griffey on a pitch that bounced into the glove of catcher Brian McCann to end the threat.

“I thought they would pitch to him,” Narron said. “I was trying to find a spot where we could have Junior come up with the tying run on base. Their left-handers wore us out.”

Earning the win after starter John Thomson succumbed to shoulder stiffness and left with one out in the third, Villarreal (8-1) gave up three runs, four hits, one walk and struck out two in 2 1-3 innings.

After McCann’s RBI single gave the Braves a 1-0 lead in the first, Atlanta scored three runs off Arroyo in the second. Thorman hit his second homer before Giles’ RBI single and Andruw Jones’ sacrifice fly.

The Braves led 6-0 lead in the fifth following Francoeur’s 17th homer and Langerhans’ RBI double off Arroyo. Andruw Jones homered off Todd Coffey in the sixth.

Thomson, who allowed two hits, one walk and struck out two, is 0-4 with a 9.39 ERA in his last six starts. The right-hander was on the disabled list from June 16-July 3 with a blister on his right middle finger.

Though he doesn’t expect to miss a start, Thomson indicated the biggest problem is finishing pitches.

“It’s tight, so it’s not allowing me to get out front when I throw, so I’m getting a lot of pitches off,” Thomson said. “That’s why everything I threw today—all my fastballs looked like cutters. In my head I always think if I keep my mechanics right, I can go out and change speeds and get guys out.”

Arroyo lost for the third time in four starts, a span of 24 1-3 innings. The right-hander had pitched at least five innings since last Sept. 28, when Boston lost to Toronto.

“I had a bad one the last time out,” Arroyo said. “You don’t want to have bad ones back-to-back. “Sometimes when you’re rolling downhill, it’s hard to stop.”

Renteria has a 14-game hitting streak for Atlanta. Chipper Jones extended his streak to 13 games and Giles pushed his to 12.

“(John) Smoltz told me to go to Florida and keep swinging,” said Chipper Jones, who took a cortisone shot in his sore right foot after the game. “Everybody was pretty geeked up after the game today.”

Notes

Reds C David Ross, who missed his second straight game, was diagnosed with a lower abdominal strain after undergoing an MRI exam in Cincinnati. The team has no immediate plans to place Ross on the disabled list. … Braves 1B Adam LaRoche missed the game with an upper respiratory infection. Thorman replaced him. … Griffey was held out of the starting lineup for an extra day of rest. Ryan Freel started in his place, but was replaced by Dewayne Wise with a sore right shoulder after he was caught stealing to end the fifth. … Villarreal, who struck out to end the third, had his first at-bat since he was a rookie with Arizona in 2003.

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