The Cincinnati Reds own the best home record in the majors, and they'll welcome the Atlanta Braves to Great American Ballpark on Monday to open a three-game set.
Cincinnati entered Monday 2 1/2 games back of the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central. The Reds, who will begin a six-game homestand, finished off a three-game road sweep of the Chicago Cubs with Sunday's 7-4 victory.
Joey Votto had three hits and Todd Frazier drove in a pair of runs to help pick up starter Mat Latos, who allowed three runs in five innings.
"We've got a tough homestand," manager Dusty Baker said. "We're facing the Braves, who are one of the better teams in this league. After the Braves, we face the Brewers back in our division. We've got work to do."
Atlanta holds a two-game lead over the Nationals for the top spot in the NL East but has lost seven of its last nine on the road. The Braves snapped a three-game slide with a 9-4 triumph over the Mets on Sunday behind three RBI apiece from Freddie Freeman and Reed Johnson. The nine runs were the most for the Braves since a 10-2 win over the Rockies on April 23.
Monday's game is the first of 10 straight on the road for an Atlanta team that has dropped 10 of its last 15 overall. Paul Maholm will try to put a stop to that trend, as he is 5-1 with a 2.62 ERA in his last 12 starts against the Reds. However, the left-hander has lost each of his last three outings and has gotten only one run of support in all of them. He tossed a season-high eight innings against Washington on Wednesday but came away with a 2-0 loss.
The Braves welcome catcher Brian McCann back from the disabled list as he makes his season debut. The six-time All-Star had offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. While his replacement, Evan Gattis, earned NL Rookie of the Month for April, McCann's teammates are happy to welcome back a familiar face behind the dish.
"It's going to be nice to get all the pieces back," left fielder Justin Upton said. "We know we have an All-Star catcher coming back. I used to love to watch him play and swing the bat even when I was playing against him. So it's going to be fun to play beside him."
Bronson Arroyo takes the mound for the Reds, who sport a major league-best 2.32 staff ERA at home. Arroyo gave up two runs over seven innings at St. Louis on Tuesday, as the Reds fell, 2-1.
Cincinnati has won seven of the last eight head-to-head meetings and has won six in a row over Atlanta at Great American Ballpark. A win here would be the 1,600th career victory for Baker, which would move him past Tommy Lasorda for 18th place all-time.