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Choo keeps hitting as Reds roll

The SportsXchange

ATLANTA -- The All-Star break is coming at a good time for the banged-up Atlanta Braves.

Cincinnati Reds center fielder Shin-Soo Choo, though, would probably rather keep on playing.

Choo extended his hitting streak to 12 games and hit his 13th homer as the Reds defeated the Braves 8-4 on Sunday to split the four-game series at Turner Field.

Choo, who turned 31 on Saturday, went 2-for-3 with two walks in his fifth consecutive multi-hit game and is 21-for-49 during the hitting streak. He was 8-for-16 and scored seven runs in the series.

The native of South Korea started hot with the Reds, then went into a slump. Now he is hot again.

"I had too much in my head, thinking about too much," Choo said. "Now I'm relaxed. I just see the ball and hit it. I'm feeling good."

"You can't stay hot all the time," Reds manager Dusty Baker said of Choo's cold June. "When you're slumping, it's a terrible feeling. Seeing your average go down every day is even a worse feeling."

Now Choo's average is back up to .287 and he has a .425 on-base percentage.

"He had a great series," Baker said.

Jay Bruce also came through, going 3-for-5 with his 19th homer, and the Reds got five innings from their bullpen against a depleted Braves lineup. Logan Ondrusek (3-0) pitched two scoreless innings for the victory.

The Braves lost outfielders Jason Heyward (hamstring), B.J. Upton (abductor) and Justin Upton (calf) in the first two games of the series and were without first baseman Freddie Freeman on Sunday after he jammed his left thumb on a tag Saturday.

"Just one of those freak injuries I seem to run into every single year," Freeman said.

B.J. Upton was put on the disabled list Sunday and Evan Gattis was activated from the disabled list to fill in at first for Freeman, who will not play in the All-Star Game.

Braves catcher Brian McCann will take Freeman's place in New York on the National League team.

"It's unfortunate that Freddie can't play," said McCann. "He's carried us all year."

Reds starter Tony Cingrani was pulled after throwing 96 pitches and allowing two tainted runs in four innings. He gave up four hits, walked three and struck out five.

Third baseman Todd Frazier lost a two-out popup in the sun, leading to a second-inning run for the Braves. But Cingrani caught Jose Constanza's liner to get out of a bases-loaded jam and then had a bunt single to start the Reds' four-run third.

Joey Votto drove in a run with a double, another scored on a ground out, and Bruce smashed a two-run homer into the right field seats as Braves starter Julio Teheran hung a 1-0 slider. It was the Reds' first homer in five games.

Shortstop Zack Cozart's throwing error gave the Braves an unearned run in the bottom of the third, but Choo picked on a 1-0 pitch and went deep to the opposite field against Teheran leading off the fifth.

Teheran (7-5) had posted a 1.79 ERA in his past seven home starts, but he allowed five runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings against the Reds.

Dan Uggla hit his 18th homer of the season in the eighth inning on Sam LeCure's first pitch, but the Reds scored three runs in the ninth, highlighted by Brandon Phillips two-run double.

Andrelton Simmons hit his eighth homer of the season off Reds closer Aroldis Chapman in a non-save situation in the ninth.

"We had a chance to take three out of four and maybe even sweep them," Baker said. "But we'll take what we got."

NOTES: McCann will be making his seventh appearance All-Star appearance. ... Freeman, who will still travel to New York, won the final vote for a spot on the NL team. ... Gattis played in two minor league rehab games, going 1-for-8 with a double and three strikeouts for Class AAA Gwinnett at Durham. ... The Braves play an interleague series against the White Sox in Chicago after the All-Star break, with RHP Tim Hudson (6-7) slated to start the Friday opener. ... The Reds will begin a three-game home series with the NL Central rival Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday. ... The Reds, 30-16 at home, haven't won a road series since taking three of four from the Chicago Cubs on June 10-13.
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