CINCINNATI (AP) - Watching balls fly during batting practice at Great American Ball Park, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez noted the field's reputation as a fertile place for home runs.
``This place is tough for pitchers ... and managers,' he said.
Tough - and strange at times, too.
Right-hander Mike Leake hit his first career homer - one of three solo shots in a row by the Cincinnati Reds - and allowed only two hits over eight innings Monday night for a 4-1 victory over Atlanta.
Drew Stubbs hit two of the career-high four homers allowed by Atlanta starter Mike Minor (2-4). All the runs scored on solo homers at one of the majors' most hitter-friendly ballparks.
``A weird game,' Gonzalez said. ``All the runs on solo home runs, and the old adage is solo home runs don't beat you.'
They can when the other team hits four of them.
Leake (1-5) finally got his first victory in eight starts this season, doing a little bit of everything. He struck out a season-high six and retired 14 in a row after Juan Francisco homered in the second inning.
Jose Arredondo walked two batters with two outs in the ninth before Sean Marshall retired Jason Heyward on a fly ball for his eighth save, completing the two-hitter.
Minor had a strange outing. He went six innings and yielded five hits, four of them homers.
``I don't think it was the ballpark,' Minor said. ``The pitches were up, and that's what they did - home runs. They were sitting on my best pitch tonight, which was my changeup. Three of the four homers came off changeups.'
Gonzalez thought Minor did a good job recovering from the three-homer inning and lasting two more.
``A good teaching moment,' Gonzalez said. ``Four solo home runs and I thought the kid pitched OK. It was a good chance for him to go out there and just hang around. I thought he did better in the fifth and sixth innings.'
The Reds were coming off a successful stay in New York that included three wins in five games against the Mets and Yankees. Back home, they got the best of another homer-filled game at Great American Ball Park.
Leake gave up a homer deep into the Braves' bullpen by Francisco in the second. The Reds gave up on the third baseman during spring training and traded him to the Braves for reliever J.J. Hoover.
The Braves got only one other runner as far as second base against Leake, who threw 98 pitches and walked one.
Stubbs started the Reds' biggest homer splurge of the season by connecting in the first inning. The Reds wasted a chance to break the game open in the second when Joey Votto flied out with the bases loaded.
Leake hit a high, 1-2 pitch into the stands in left field with two outs in the fourth. Leake is the best hitter on Cincinnati's pitching staff, but had never homered in the majors. He sprinted around the bases without fanfare, then got a congratulatory knuckle bump from Baker on the top step of the dugout.
Rookie shortstop Zack Cozart was in a 3-for-28 slump when he followed with another homer three pitches later, his fourth of the season. Stubbs came to bat, ran the count full and hit his fifth homer. It was the first time three Reds batters homered in succession since Sept. 10 at Colorado, when Chris Heisey, Votto and Jay Bruce did it against Alex White.
After Stubbs rounded the bases for the second time and got congratulations from everyone in the dugout, he stopped by Leake for a brief chat - about hitting, no doubt.
``I started a trend, I guess,' Leake said. ``It was nice to see three in a row.'
Chipper Jones was out of the Braves' lineup for the third consecutive game with a swollen left calf, hit by a batted ball on Friday night. The Reds have put Jones' name on the side of the bases for the series, honoring him in his last season before retirement. Jones expects to miss another game or two.
NOTES: Brandon Beachy makes his second career start against the Reds on Tuesday. Mat Latos is 2-2 in five career starts against the Braves. ... The Reds hadn't hit more than three homers in any game before Monday. The Braves hadn't allowed more than three. ... Caleb Lloyd, a 20-year-old Reds fain in left field, caught two of the three homers in the fourth inning, one off a carom. ... The Reds will honor Jones on the field before the final game of the series Thursday, presenting him with one of the bases.
The Associated Press News Service
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