Braves-Reds Preview

The Associated Press

The Atlanta Braves are going through a bit of an offensive slump, and plated just one run in losing their series opener with the Cincinnati Reds.

One run might be enough for the Braves to get the win Tuesday night at Great American Ball Park with the way probable starter Brandon Beachy has been pitching.

Atlanta (26-17) ranks second in the NL with 217 runs, but has scored just five times while dropping two of its last three games. The Braves managed two hits and three walks in a 4-1 loss to the Reds on Monday as their NL East lead shrunk to one-half game over Washington.

It hasn't helped that Chipper Jones has sat out the last three games because of a bruised left calf, and Freddie Freeman hasn't done anything to pick up the slack. The team leader with seven homers and 32 RBIs, Freeman is 1 for 12 with five strikeouts in the last three contests.

Jones says he is a day or two away from being able to play, but his absence might not make any difference with Beachy (5-1, 1.33 ERA) on the mound.

The major league ERA leader, Beachy threw a five-hitter with six strikeouts and no walks in Thursday's 7-0 win over Miami. It was the third victory in as many starts for the right-hander, who has won five straight decisions since dropping his season debut.

Beachy, who threw a career-high 122 pitches against the Marlins, has made it a priority this season to go deeper into games. He has pitched into the seventh inning in six of his eight outings after failing to reach the seventh in 21 of his 25 starts last year.

"There was always that one inning last year when I just couldn't get over the hump, couldn't make that one pitch or those two pitches to get out of it to keep going," he told the Braves' official website. "I've been able to make some of those this year."

Beachy is holding left-handed batters to a .148 average, which could create problems for Jay Bruce and Joey Votto. Right-handed Drew Stubbs had two of the Reds' four solo homers Monday as Cincinnati (22-19) won its third in a row.

In Beachy's lone outing against the Reds last July, he gave up three runs and five hits - two homers - in six innings but didn't get a decision in the Braves' 4-3 loss.

Atlanta will strive for a better offensive performance Tuesday when it faces Cincinnati starter Mat Latos (2-2, 4.63).

Freeman is 3 for 6 with a pair of double off Latos, who allowed three runs and seven hits in five innings Thursday, not getting a decision in a 9-4 loss to the New York Mets. It was another inefficient outing for the righty, who was done after throwing 100 pitches.

Latos has averaged 106 pitches in his last four starts but has not thrown more than 6 1-3 innings. His average of 18.2 pitches per inning is third-highest in the NL.

"I just have to come out, attack the zone and throw strikes," he told the Reds' official website. "Sometimes I'm not executing my pitches and it gets my pitch count up. Sometimes I feel like we fall in love with the same pitch over and over again and you have guys that battle."

Latos is 2-2 with a 2.43 ERA in five career starts versus the Braves, and has a 1.38 ERA in his two outings in Atlanta.

It is uncertain if reliever Aroldis Chapman will get an opportunity to pitch after he was arrested for speeding and driving with a suspended license early Monday. Reds manager Dusty Baker, who was not aware of the arrest until after Monday's game, said before the series opener that the hard-throwing lefty will get more chances to close.