CINCINNATI — Sitting in the Braves dugout during batting practice, manager Fredi Gonzalez marveled at how many fly balls land in the first row of seats at Great American Ball Park. Maybe they should just remove that row, he mused.
A few hours later, that first row cost him again.
Todd Frazier connected on his first game-ender with one out in the ninth inning Wednesday night, extending Cincinnati’s best surge of the season with a 2-1 victory that left Atlanta in disbelief over the Reds’ homer-cozy ballpark.
“It’s just like we talked about this afternoon,” Gonzalez said. “It’s one of those things. I don’t know if it would be a lazy fly ball at Turner Field, but I don’t think it would have gone out.”
Great American is one of the few places it would.
“When he got that ball up, you knew it had a chance, especially in this ballpark,” manager Dusty Baker said.
The Reds won their fifth in a row, leaving them five games over .500 (24-19) for the first time this season.
Frazier hit a solo shot on the second pitch from Cristhian Martinez (2-1), who came on to start the ninth. It was a fitting ending for a series that has been decided by solo homers — 11 in all during the three games.
This one barely cleared the wall in right field, landing in the first row of seats an estimated 355 feet away.
“Tough loss,” said Braves starter Tommy Hanson, who gave up four hits in six innings. “But there’s only so much you can do. It kind of (stinks) to see that ball go into the first row and that’s how the game is determined.
“But that’s the ballpark we’re playing in and we have to deal with it.”
Aroldis Chapman (4-0) kept his ERA perfect by fanning two of the three he faced in the ninth. The left-hander hasn’t allowed an earned run in 24 1-3 innings, ascending to the closer’s role.
The Reds will try for a four-game sweep on Thursday. They haven’t swept the Braves in Cincinnati since the 1980 season.
The series has been an extended game of home run derby, with the Reds getting the best of it. There have been 12 homers in the three games, eight of them by Cincinnati.
Dan Uggla continued the big-swing trend in the fourth, hitting a solo homer deep into the upper deck in left field for a 1-0 lead.
It was the eighth this season allowed by Bronson Arroyo, who gave up a club-record 46 homers last season when he was pitching with mononucleosis and a sore back.
Slumping Jay Bruce tied it in the sixth by hitting into a forceout — only the second run of the series that didn’t come off a home run.
The Reds loaded the bases with one out. Bruce grounded to first baseman Freddie Freeman, who threw to second for the forceout. Bruce beat the relay to first, avoiding the double play and tying it at 1.
“I just kind of got over there,” said Hanson, who had to try for the relay. “I didn’t even touch the bag. I didn’t know how close I was. It was a tough play. If we get that play, it’s huge. But it was a tough play.”
Bruce grounded into an inning-ending double play with runners on first and third in the eighth.
Braves third baseman Chipper Jones missed his fifth straight game because of a swollen left calf, hit by a grounder on Friday night. He got a nice ovation when he was introduced as a pinch-hitter in the seventh and drew a walk, then left for a runner.
Phillips, a three-time Gold Glove second baseman, got the Reds out of that threat by knocking down Michael Bourn’s grounder up the middle and flipping the ball to second while rolling across the infield.
NOTES: The Reds will honor Jones by presenting him with a commemorative base before Thursday’s game. Jones is playing his final season. ... The Braves are (19-5) with Jones in the starting lineup, (7-13) without him. ... Cincinnati starts RH Homer Bailey (2-3) in the series finale against RH Randall Delgado (2-4). ... Braves C Brian McCann was out for a second straight game because of illness. ... Reds CF Drew Stubbs got a day out of the starting lineup. He went into the game in the seventh as part of a double switch.
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