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Atlanta Braves (68-61) at Cincinnati Reds (61-68)
Saturday, August 23 - 7:10 PM EST
Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, Ohio
The Atlanta Braves find themselves in the midst of the National League playoff race, and their starting pitching is the biggest reason why as the Braves play the third of a four-game series Saturday at the Cincinnati Reds. Mike Minor carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning in Friday’s 3-1 victory in 12 innings, the major-league leading 90th quality start by an Atlanta pitcher this season. The Reds continue to struggle, losing their seventh in a row Friday and finishing with only two hits.
Cincinnati reached the All-Star break seven games above .500 and sat 1 ½ games out of the NL Central lead, but is 10-24 since and has lost all five matchups with the Braves this season. The Reds’ bullpen strung together five consecutive scoreless innings before allowing two runs in the 12th Friday, giving Cincinnati relievers a 0-11 record since mid-July. Atlanta is six games behind Washington in the NL East and one game out of the final NL wild-card spot, winning eight of its past 10 following a 2-11 skid.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1
PITCHING MATCHUP: Braves RH Ervin Santana (13-6, 3.71 ERA) vs. Reds RH Mike Leake (9-11, 3.65)
Santana continues to put together perhaps the finest season of his 10-year career, ranking third in the National League with a .684 winning percentage and standing four victories from matching his career high. He is 8-1 in his past 10 starts with a 3.12 ERA, beating the Pirates by allowing three runs in 5 1/3 innings Monday to win his sixth consecutive decision. Santana defeated the Reds on April 25 in Atlanta, allowing four runs in 6 2/3 innings.
Leake has allowed a NL-high 178 hits on the season, and is 2-4 with a 4.18 ERA in his past eight starts. He got a no-decision Monday at St. Louis, giving up four runs on eight hits in seven innings. Leake, who went 4-1 in his final six starts before the All-Star break, allowed four runs on eight hits over seven innings in losing to the Braves on April 26 at Atlanta.
1. Atlanta OF Justin Upton, who extended his hitting streak to 13 games Friday and crushed a two-run homer in the 12th, has 23 RBIs in August.
2. The Braves are 47-18 when hitting at least one homer.
3. Cincinnati OF Billy Hamilton stole three bases Friday to give him 49 on the season, five shy of Bob Bescher’s club rookie record (54, 1909).
PREDICTION: Braves 3, Reds 2