ATLANTA (AP) — Brooks Conrad hit a pinch-hit grand slam to cap a seven-run ninth inning that gave the Atlanta Braves a stunning 10-9 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday. The Braves fell behind 8-0 against rookie sensation Mike Leake and were still down 9-3 heading to the ninth. Four straight hits, including Nate McLouth's two-run single, gave the Braves hope. A walk to David Ross loaded the bases with no outs, bringing the potential tying run to the plate.
Martin Prado hit a grounder to third that looked like a sure double play, but Miguel Cairo couldn't get the ball out of his glove — Cincinnati's fourth error of the game. Jason Heyward struck out against Arthur Rhodes on a 3-2 pitch, and Cincinnati turned to closer Francisco Cordero (1-3) to finish off Atlanta.
Instead, Conrad hit a drive that deflected off the glove of left fielder Laynce Nix leaping against the top of the wall and went over at the 380-foot sign.
The remarkable rally overshadowed Joey Votto's grand slam during an eight-run second and Leake's attempt to improve to 5-0. Craig Kimbrel (1-0) quietly picked up his first major league win with a scoreless ninth.
Leake certainly did his part, allowing only one earned run on five hits in six innings. He gave up three runs in all, but the others could be blamed on a leaky defense that eventually caught up with the Reds. Right-fielder Jay Bruce dropped a fly ball at the warning track, and shortstop Orlando Cabrera dropped a throw on a potential double-play grounder.
Cabrera also mishandled a hard-hit grounder in the ninth, a play that was generously ruled a hit for Yunel Escobar.
Leake, one of the few players to jump directly to the majors without any minor league experience, was matched against Tommy Hanson in a showdown between two of baseball's best young pitchers. The Atlanta right-hander didn't hold up his end of the expected duel, giving up eight hits and eight runs in 1 2-3 innings — easily the worst start of his big league career.
Hanson escaped trouble in the first but wasn't so fortunate in the second, even after Ramon Hernandez's leadoff single was followed by two straight outs. Leake helped his cause with a single to center, Cabrera walked to load the bases and Cairo dumped a run-scoring single to center on an 0-2 pitch.
Leake held up at third, leaving the bases loaded for Votto. He got ahead 3-1 in the count, then made Hanson pay for a fastball just above the knees. The outfielders didn't even bother running hard, jogging over leisurely to watch the towering drive easily clear the wall in left-center.
The Reds weren't done, either. Phillips singled, Bruce walked and Hernandez came through with his second hit of the inning, a run-scoring single. Nix followed with a two-run double into the right-field corner, finally prompting Braves manager Bobby Cox to call for the bullpen.
NOTES: Troy Glaus had three hits for the Braves. ... Cincinnati 3B Scott Rolen got the day off. Manager Dusty Baker described him as "very sore and tight. He has been for a couple weeks now, so we have to monitor him big-time." ... Braves P Kenshin Kawakami developed another blister on his right foot during a start Wednesday night, and he also pitched with a strained back. The Braves are off next Monday, so Kawakami could be skipped if needed.