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ATL@CIN: The Reds rally in a seven-run seventh inning

CINCINNATI -- Contradiction might have dripped over scorebooks as much as perspiration at steamy Great American Ball Park on Saturday.

Reds starter Homer Bailey labored with shaky command all afternoon and ran up his pitch count. Braves pitcher Derek Lowe was an efficient and often unstoppable force for most of his outing.

Yet it was Bailey on the winning side of an 11-2 Reds thumping of the Braves before a sellout crowd of 41,192. The right-hander threw 109 pitches over six innings, but gave up only two second-inning runs.

"They had him in trouble from the beginning," Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker said of Bailey. "He had very few first-pitch strikes. He got out of trouble three or four times but kept us in the ballgame. That was huge."

Adding to the strangeness of the day was two Reds hitters out of the lineup with illnesses -- Jay Bruce and Edgar Renteria -- ended up playing large roles in Lowe's undoing. Atlanta had a 2-1 lead in the sixth when Bruce's pinch-hit double to right field started Cincinnati's first big rally. The usual right fielder had been down with dizziness brought on by an inner ear infection.

Bruce was lifted for pinch-runner Mike Leake and Drew Stubbs followed with a perfect bunt single toward third base that didn't draw a throw. Next was Renteria, who entered in the fourth inning for an injured Zack Cozart, and hit a two-run double to left field for the lead.

Renteria, who wasn't expected to be available because of flu-like symptoms, was needed when Cozart suffered a hyperextended left elbow in a collision in the top of the fourth.

"I did not feel good, but I had to play," said Renteria after a three-RBI day. "I don't care how I feel at the time, you play for the team. That's what I did."

After a Joey Votto single, Brandon Phillips rolled a RBI double down the left-field line for the fifth straight hit of the inning. Entering the sixth, Lowe had given up only one hit in the game and one first-inning run on a RBI groundout by Votto. He had only 58 pitches before things went awry.

"It's head scratching how the game can just turn around like that," said Lowe, who was pulled after Phillips' hit. "I just wasn't able to get a single out. It was a close game. We still felt like we had control of how the game was going."

Cincinnati opened the floodgates on the Atlanta bullpen in the seventh as it sent 11 men to the plate and tied its season high with a seven-run inning. Renteria added an RBI single in the inning, but the game-icing hit came when Todd Frazier hit a bases-loaded double off of the left-field wall that just missed being a grand slam. The hit still gave Frazier the first three RBIs of his big league career.

Having back-to-back big innings was a breath of fresh air for the offensively troubled Reds, who were held to three runs or fewer in five of the previous seven games -- including consecutive shutouts this week at Pittsburgh.

"From playing Little League, it was always hitting is contagious," said Frazier, who made his first big league start. "And that's a good thing to have in the dugout and get everybody fired up. We saw that inning everybody was coming together and doing what they had to do. It was an exciting inning for everybody."

The recipient of the scoring deluge was Bailey, who was lifted in favor of Bruce to hit in the sixth. From the start of the game, it seemed highly unlikely he'd be around long enough to get the win.

"They were beating us to death, but it was still 2-1," Baker said.

During a 34-pitch second inning where he faced eight batters, Bailey fell into a bases-loaded, one-out jam before Lowe lined a two-run double into left field.

"As soon as I released it, I was like, 'Thank God Brian McCann was not at bat.' I might as well have set that one on a tee for him," said Bailey, who gave up five hits and three walks with a hit batsman and three strikeouts.

A walk to Martin Prado made life harder on Bailey, who recovered nicely by getting a popup from Jason Heyward and McCann's flyout to center field. The Braves stranded nine in the game, including seven over the first four innings. Bailey's only 1-2-3 inning was the sixth.

"You get guys on, that's part of the game. You better know how to pitch with them on," Bailey said. "I had a lot of practice at that today. I was able to get big outs when we needed to. We were fortunate or lucky or whatever you want to call it, but nonetheless, we got the job done."

At 49-51, the Reds avoided going four games under .500 for the first time in 2011. They came in five games out of first place and are trying to hang in the National League Central race. If they can win again Sunday to take the series, it would be their first consecutive victories in five weeks.

"Confidence-wise, you see what we're capable of, especially with the explosion," Baker said. "Our offense needed it. Our pitching staff needed it." Comments