0

Simmons homers twice as Braves win third in a row

CINCINNATI -- Atlanta shortstop Andrelton Simmons hit two home runs, including a two-run blast in the eighth, lifting the Braves to a 7-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in the opener of a three-game series Monday night at Great American Ball Park.

Jordan Schafer added his first career pinch home run in the eighth for the Braves.

Atlanta, which started the season 12-1, won for just the fourth time in 11 games.

Braves catcher Brian McCann, a six-time All-Star, came off the disabled list and made his much-anticipated season debut, going 0-for-4 with a walk and a strikeout.

The offensive star for Atlanta was Simmons, who went 3-for-4 with a career-high four RBIs. It was his first career multi-home run game.

Atlanta starter Paul Maholm (4-3) was dominant early in the game, and he wound up allowing two runs on four hits in 5 2/3 innings. He walked two while striking out six, and he threw 105 pitches.

Zack Cozart went 2-for-4 with two runs for Cincinnati.

Reds starter Bronson Arroyo (2-4) allowed four runs on eight hits over five innings. Arroyo walked two and fanned seven, but an elevated pitch count was his undoing.

Cincinnati right-hander Alfredo Simon struck out all six batters he faced in relief of Arroyo.

Atlanta led 4-2 in the eighth before Simmons and Schafer broke the game open with back-to-back homers off Reds right-hander Logan Ondrusek.

Joey Votto doubled home Cozart in the bottom of the eighth and later scored on Todd Frazier’s groundout to make the score 7-4.

Votto represented the tying run when he faced Craig Kimbrel in the ninth with runners on first and second, but he struck out swinging. Kimbrel notched his 10th save.

McCann, making his first appearance since undergoing offseason shoulder surgery to repair a torn right labrum, got a nice ovation from the sizable contingent of Braves fans prior to his first at-bat.

Freeman’s RBI single in the first inning drove home Chris Johnson with the game’s first run.

Arroyo fanned three batters in the first, but also walked two and gave up a run and two hits over 28 pitches. He had five strikeouts through two innings.

Simmons launched a 1-0 pitch from Arroyo off the left-field facade, putting the Braves ahead 2-0 in the second.

The Braves led 3-0 when Brandon Phillips doubled off left fielder Evan Gattis’ glove, driving home Cozart with Cincinnati’s first run in the fourth.

NOTES: McCann was reinstated after hitting .348 with four homers and nine RBIs in seven rehab starts for Class A Rome and Triple-A Gwinnett. To make room for McCann, INF/OF Tyler Pastornicky was optioned to Triple-A. ... With McCann back, the Braves now have three catchers on the roster. To keep Gattis’ bat in the lineup, the Braves gave him his first start in left field after he made 22 starts behind the plate. ... Reds RHP Johnny Cueto threw 25 pitches in a bullpen session prior to Monday’s game with positive results. Cueto, who’s been on the disabled list since April 15 with a strained right lat muscle, is expected to throw at least one more bullpen session before beginning a rehab assignment.