ATLANTA (AP) — Brandon Finnegan said it was “pretty obvious” his six innings against Atlanta were a struggle.
To survive the outing with only one run allowed was a confidence-builder.
Jay Bruce had a three-run homer in the first, Finnegan allowed only one run and the surging Cincinnati Reds escaped a jam in the ninth to beat the weak-hitting Braves 3-1 on Tuesday night.
Finnegan (3-4) gave up four hits with three walks as he stranded baserunners in five innings.
“You know, if that’s what happens on an off-night, I’m OK with that,” Finnegan said.
Atlanta native Blake Wood loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth on walks to Adonis Garcia and Jace Peterson, and a single by Tyler Flowers.
Wood struck out pinch-hitter A.J. Pierzynski before getting Mallex Smith to hit into a game-ending double play for his first save.
“We dodged a bullet,” said Reds manager Bryan Price.
The Reds have won nine of their last 13, including the first two games of the four-game series with the Braves.
Julio Teheran (2-7) allowed three runs and three hits with one walk and eight strikeouts for Atlanta.
The Braves have lost four straight and 10 of 12 and have the majors’ worst record. They fell 20 games below .500 just including home games (7-27).
Teheran recorded 17 consecutive outs before Kyle Waldrop’s double to right field with one out in the seventh. Waldrop made his first career start.
The wasted opportunity in the ninth left the Braves 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position.
“It’s just not happening,” said Braves interim manager Brian Snitker of the struggling offense. “There’s nothing you can do but just keep going up there and grinding through at-bats.”
The Braves’ only run off Finnegan came in the fourth. Garcia singled, stole second, moved to third on Peterson’s single and scored on Teheran’s sacrifice bunt.
Right-hander J.J. Hoover, recalled from Triple-A Louisville before the game, pitched two scoreless innings in relief of Finnegan. Hoover opened the season as the Reds’ closer but was optioned to Louisville on May 7 after posting a 14.34 ERA with one save in two chances over 12 appearances.
Right-hander Daniel Wright was optioned to Louisville.
Finnegan had his teammates in the dugout trying to hide their laughter after he took a tumble on the mound in the first. Smith was on second base when Finnegan spun around on the mound for a pickoff throw. Before he could throw, the spin sent the left-hander crashing to the mound. He smiled as he rose and regained his composure.
“When I went to turn, my left foot slipped on the rubber and my right foot got drug across the mound,” he said before laughing. “Some would call it athletic. I thought it was funny.”
Reds: INF Jordan Pacheco was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to June 3, with right shoulder tendinitis. Pacheco was sent to Louisville on a rehabilitation assignment.
Braves: SS Erick Aybar, hit by a pitch in his ribs in Sunday’s game, was scratched from the lineup due to soreness. X-rays were negative. He wore a heavy wrap around his chest before the game and could be held out again on Wednesday night. … RHP Shea Simmons, recovering from Tommy John surgery, has tendinitis near his shoulder. His rehab assignment with Double-A Mississippi is on hold for at least one week.
Reds: RHP Anthony DeSclafani (0-0, 1.50) will make his second start of the season and his third career start against the Braves on Wednesday night. DeSclafani began the season on the disabled list with a strained left oblique. He is 0-1 with a 5.73 ERA in two starts against Atlanta, both in 2015.
Braves: RHP Bud Norris will try to carry momentum from an impressive home win over the Cubs. Norris (2-7, 4.75) allowed only four hits and one run over seven innings in a 5-1 win over Chicago on Friday.