CINCINNATI — Limited to pinch hitting for most of the past month, Devin Mesoraco finally got a chance to make a difference.
The catcher with a sore hip doubled home the winning run with one out in the ninth inning on Tuesday night, sending the Cincinnati Reds to a 4-3 victory over the slumping Atlanta Braves.
The Reds snapped a three-game losing streak with the first game-ending hit of Mesoraco’s career.
“I haven’t done it before,” he said. “I’ve had situations where I wish I could have done it. I’m just thankful I got a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on it.”
The Braves let a 3-2 lead slip away in the seventh with the help of starter Mike Foltynewicz’s throwing error, and wound up losing for the fourth time in five games.
Jason Grilli (0-2) made his first appearance in six days after being sidelined by a sore back and gave up a one-out single by Brayan Pena for his third hit of the game. Mesoraco, who hasn’t caught a game in a month because of an aching hip, then doubled into the corner in left field.
It’s been a tough time for Mesoraco, who was one of the Reds’ five All-Stars last year.
“That’s not what I was looking for this season,” he said. “Getting this opportunity definitely helps.”
Pena, who is Mesoraco’s backup, had his first three-hit game of the season. He is batting .588 (10 for 17) in his last five games.
“He’s been terrific,” manager Bryan Price said. “He’s been great behind the plate and terrific with the bat. It’s a big help when you lose someone like Devin to have someone like Pena to step in.”
Aroldis Chapman (2-2) gave up a walk in the ninth. The Reds closer had allowed ninth-inning runs in each of the two previous games, both losses.
Atlanta moved ahead 3-2 against Anthony DeSclafani, who had lost each of his previous three starts. Nick Markakis had a pair of hits and drove in a run, and Jace Peterson singled, doubled and scored.
Foltynewicz settled down after yielding Todd Frazier’s two-run homer in the first. He lasted a career-high 6 2/3 innings and struck out seven.
His worst throw was to second base.
Pena opened the seventh with a single, and Zack Cozart bunted back to the mound while trying to sacrifice. Foltynewicz fielded the ball and threw into center field while trying for a forceout. Marlon Byrd’s sacrifice fly tied it.
Frazier talked before the game about how he ached to get back to the All-Star home run derby, where he was the runner-up last year to Oakland’s Yoenis Cespedes. The All-Star Game and derby are at Great American Ball Park, one of the majors’ most homer-friendly facilities.
Frazier’s drive in the first inning gave him 11 for the season, tying Washington’s Bryce Harper for the NL lead.
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