published Saturday, April 26th, 2014

Braves hold off Reds, 5-4

Atlanta Braves left fielder Justin Upton (8) gets a hug from first baseman Freddie Freeman (5) after hitting a three-run home run in their baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds Friday, April, 25, 2014 in Atlanta.
Atlanta Braves left fielder Justin Upton (8) gets a hug from first baseman Freddie Freeman (5) after hitting a three-run home run in their baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds Friday, April, 25, 2014 in Atlanta.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

ATLANTA — Justin Upton hit a three-run homer to continue another strong April, Ervin Santana earned his third pitching win and the Atlanta Braves held off the Cincinnati Reds 5-4 on Friday night.

Craig Kimbrel gave up a leadoff single to Roger Bernadina and walked Zack Cozart to open the ninth. Kimbrel struck out Brayan Pena and Chris Heisey before earning his seventh save on Joey Votto's groundout.

First baseman Freddie Freeman made a long stretch for Chris Johnson's throw from third base on Votto's grounder. Reds manager Bryan Price challenged first-base umpire Vic Carapazza's ruling that Freeman's foot remained on the bag. The call was confirmed, ending the game.

Two Cincinnati players left the game with injuries. Third baseman Todd Frazier was pulled in the fifth with tightness in his left leg. Catcher Devin Mesoraco strained his left hamstring and stumbled after rounding third base in the seventh, before limping across home plate.

Santana (3-0) led 5-0 through five innings but allowed two runs in the sixth and two again in the seventh. He gave up four runs on nine hits in 6 2/3 innings.

The Braves scored three runs in the first off Homer Bailey (1-2). Following singles by B.J. Upton and Freeman, Justin Upton hit his team-leading sixth homer. He leads the team with 15 RBIs.

In 2013, Justin Upton led the majors with 12 homers in April, becoming the fastest player in Braves franchise history to reach the mark. He has hit 35 homers in April for his career, his highest total for any month.

Freeman had three hits for Atlanta.

B.J. Upton, who was hitting .205, had one hit in his first game wearing prescription glasses.

Bailey allowed five runs on nine hits in six innings. He allowed at least four earned runs for the fourth time in five starts this season and has a 6.15 ERA.

The Braves increased their lead to 4-0 in the second. Andrelton Simmons doubled and scored on Jason Heyward's two-out single. In the third, Freeman singled, moved to second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on Justin Upton's deep fly to center field and scored on a single by Evan Gattis.

Trailing 5-0, the Reds scored two runs in the sixth. With runners on third and second following Votto's walk and Brandon Phillips' double, Jay Bruce had a run-scoring single. Phillips scored when Neftali Soto hit into a double play.

The Reds added two runs in the seventh, knocking Santana out of the game. Mesoraco scored on Billy Hamilton's double. Votto had a run-scoring single off Luis Avilan.

An outstanding defensive play by right fielder Heyward helped Santana in the first inning. Votto doubled with one out and moved to third on Phillips' bloop single. Votto was thrown out at the plate on a strong throw by Heyward on Bruce's fly. Votto, sliding headfirst, was tagged out in the batter's box and never reached the plate.

Price said closer Aroldis Chapman, recovering from facial fractures and a mild concussion when hit by a line drive on March 19, will throw 35 to 40 pitches in batting practice today. If it goes well, it should be Chapman's final test before he is cleared for a minor league rehab assignment.

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