Cincinnati, OH – Andrelton Simmons hit two home runs and had four RBI as the Atlanta Braves defeated the Cincinnati Reds, 7-4, in the opener of a three-game series.
Jordan Schafer knocked a solo homer while Freddie Freeman and Evan Gattis also had an RBI apiece for the Braves, who have won just seven of their last 18 games after starting the season 12-1.
"It was fun," said Simmons. "Felt good over the plate, got a couple pitches over the plate. Thanks to my teammates though, they gave me a good scouting report before I had to face anybody, so they made it easier."
Braves starter Paul Maholm (4-3) had six strikeouts and allowed two runs on four hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings. Craig Kimbrel pitched a scoreless ninth to notch his tenth save.
Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier each drove in one run for the Reds, who saw starter Bronson Arroyo (2-4) give up four runs on eight hits and two walks over five frames.
"Our guys kept fighting and these guys are going to keep fighting," said Reds manager Dusty Baker. "And that's one thing about our club. One day, we're going to get over that hump."
Freeman singled with one out in the first inning to score Chris Johnson, who drew a walk.
Simmons' first homer, which came off a 1-0 pitch by Arroyo, started the second. Two innings later, he hit a blooper to left that plated Dan Uggla, who tripled to lead off the inning, for a 3-0 lead.
The Reds responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning. Zack Cozart singled to lead off and Votto walked. Phillips then doubled, scoring Cozart. Bruce grounded out to first, but Votto reached home.
Gattis ripped a double to center in the fifth to score Justin Upton, who singled to start the frame.
The Braves tacked on three more runs in the top of the eighth on back-to-back shots by Simmons and Schafer, who was brought in as a pinch-hitter.
Cozart and Votto hit back-to-back doubles to start the home half, with Votto's scoring Cozart. Three batters later, Frazier's grounder to third brought Votto home.
Kimbrel came to pitch in the ninth. He allowed singles to Donald Lutz and Shin-Soo Choo, but got Cozart to pop out and struck out Votto to end the game.
Atlanta catcher Brian McCann made his return from a shoulder injury. He was 0- for-4 with a walk ... B.J. Upton was 0-for-4 with a walk and four strikeouts for the Braves ... The Reds were 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base ... Phillips has 28 RBI, most among second basemen in the majors.