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Braves 7, Reds 2

The SportsXchange

CINCINNATI -- Juan Francisco's first career grand slam highlighted a five-run eighth inning and Dan Uggla hit two solo homers to lift the Atlanta Braves to a 7-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in the finale of a three-game series on Wednesday afternoon at Great American Ball Park.

Francisco's grand slam, the first by a Braves player this season, came on a 2-1 pitch from right-hander J.J. Hoover. Francisco, once a highly touted 3B prospect in the Reds' organization, was acquired by the Braves in exchange for Hoover in April 2012.

Despite struggling with his control at times, Braves starter Mike Minor (4-2) picked up the victory, allowing four hits, including Zack Cozart's solo homer, in seven innings.

Cozart went 2 for 4 for Cincinnati. Jay Bruce homered in the ninth inning off Anthony Varvaro, who allowed one run and three hits in two innings.

Minor, who ranks third in the National League in strikeout-to-walk ratio, walked three and struck out seven.

Cozart launched a 3-2 pitch into the left field seats for his fifth homer, putting Cincinnati ahead 1-0 in the third inning.

After Cozart's homer, Minor retired 10 of the next 11 batters he faced, four via strikeout.

Uggla tied the score with a one-out homer in the fourth off Reds starter Mike Leake. Uggla's second homer came on a 3-2 pitch from Leake in the sixth, putting the Braves ahead 2-1.

Leake (2-2) had allowed just one homer in five previous starts. He gave up four earned runs and eight hits in seven-plus innings.

Trailing by a run in the seventh, Cincinnati had runners on first and second. Leake, who leads all big-league pitchers in hits the past four seasons, batted for himself and flied out to left.

Atlanta broke the game open in the eighth.

Despite 96 pitches, Leake started the inning and allowed singles to Jordan Schafer and Andrelton Simmons, putting runners on first and third.

Schafer, batting leadoff for the sixth time this season, went 3 for 5 with a triple and run scored.

Left-hander Sean Marshall was brought in to face Freddie Freeman, who singled to right, driving home Schafer to make the score 3-1.

Hoover walked Justin Upton to load the bases. Simmons was forced at home on a throw from Cozart, but Francisco's grand slam followed three pitches later.

NOTES: It was Uggla's 17th career multi-homer game and his first this season. ... Simmons' four hits are a career high. ... Braves outfielder Jason Heyward, on the disabled list since April 22 after undergoing an emergency appendectomy, will begin a Triple-A rehab assignment on Thursday. Heyward took batting practice on Wednesday for the third straight day. The length of his rehab assignment is undetermined. ... Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto, on the DL since April 15 with a strained right lat muscle, is expected to make a rehab start for Class A Dayton on Thursday. ... Wednesday's starting pitchers were selected with consecutive picks in the 2009 draft. Leake (Arizona State) was the eighth overall choice by the Reds and Minor (Vanderbilt) was picked seventh overall by the Braves.
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