After giving up his third straight home run in the 4th inning to the Cincinnati Reds on Monday in Cincinnati, Atlanta starter Mike Minor gets a visit on the mound from Braves catcher Brian McCann. Minor was looking sharp before imploding with the back-to-back-back jacks as Atlanta lost the game, 4-1.
Jones misses third straight game
CINCINNATI — Braves third baseman Chipper Jones was out for the third straight game Monday because of a bruised left calf, saying he's a day or two away from being able to play.
He really wants to be back on the field sometime during a four-game series with the Cincinnati Reds, who are honoring him in his final season. They've put a tribute on the sides of the bases for the series.
Before the closing game of the series on Thursday, they'll honor Jones on the field and present him with one of the bases.
"Very cool," Jones said Monday before the series opener. "And it's unique. It's something I never would have thought of, but it's awfully nice and very classy of the Cincinnati Reds organization to do that.
"I look forward to getting out there and hopefully looking at the bases, hopefully rounding it once or twice. But we'll see."
The 40-year-old Atlanta star has announced he'll retire after the season. The Tampa Bay Rays honored him on Sunday with a video tribute. Jones left the dugout and tipped his cap to the fans, who gave a standing ovation.
"I really don't know how to react to what's going on," Jones said. "It's hard for me to put into words. Obviously most places I've gone during the course of my career, I've gotten booed. I've heard a lot of hate and all that kind of stuff. Yesterday (in Florida) I step out of the dugout and see everyone is standing and clapping — it's a real shock, but much appreciated."
Jones hasn't played since Friday night, when he was hit on the leg by B.J. Upton's hard-hop grounder. He said on Monday that he's still got a welt the size of a golf ball where the ball hit his leg. He had the ankle and lower calf wrapped.
"If I were to foul a ball off of that right now, you might as well just dig a hole and bury me right there at home plate because I'm not getting up," he said. "It's still really painful and my range of motion is not good enough to be able to go out there and play defense or run the bases and all that kind of stuff. I'm hopeful the last game or two of the series I'll be able to get in there."
CINCINNATI — Mike Leake was a sophomore at Arizona State the last time he got to round the bases at his own pace. Three years later, he finally got to do it again in the major leagues.
The right-hander hit his first career homer — the first of three solo shots in a row — and allowed only two hits over eight innings Monday night to lead the Cincinnati Reds to a 4-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves.
When Leake connected on a 1-2 pitch from Mike Minor (2-4) with two outs in the fourth inning, he sprinted around the bases with no outward show of celebration. Then, he sat in the dugout and watched Zack Cozart and Drew Stubbs also go deep within a 10-pitch span.
“I started a trend, I guess,” Leake said. “It was nice to see three in a row.”
Leake (1-5) finally got his first victory in eight starts this season, doing a little bit of everything. He struck out a season-high six and retired 14 in a row after Juan Francisco homered in the second inning.
“He was outstanding,” said Stubbs, who had two of the Reds’ four homers. “That was a big performance for him. He’d been struggling. That should be a big boost for his confidence. I’m glad to see it.”
All the runs scored on solo homers at one of the majors’ most hitter-friendly ballparks.
The Braves had a chance to tie it in the ninth, when the Reds’ lack of a proven closer came into play again.
Jose Arredondo walked two batters with two outs before Sean Marshall retired Jason Heyward on a fly ball for his eighth save, completing the two-hitter.
Reds manager Dusty Baker did not use reliever Aroldis Chapman, who pitched in four of the previous five games. Chapman saved Sunday’s 5-2 victory over the Yankees and Baker said Monday the hard-throwing lefty will get more chances to close when he’s rested.
After the game, the Reds learned that Chapman had been arrested in central Ohio early Monday for speeding and driving with a suspended license. He has a court hearing set for June 6.
Minor had a strange outing. He went six innings and yielded five hits, four of them homers.
“I don’t think it was the ballpark,” Minor said. “The pitches were up, and that’s what they did — home runs. They were sitting on my best pitch tonight, which was my changeup. Three of the four homers came off changeups.”
The Reds were coming off a successful stay in New York that included three wins in five games against the Mets and Yankees. Back home, they got the best of another homer-filled game at Great American Ball Park.
Leake gave up a homer deep into the Braves’ bullpen by Francisco in the second. The Reds gave up on the third baseman during spring training and traded him to the Braves for reliever J.J. Hoover.
The Braves got only one other runner as far as second base against Leake, who threw 98 pitches and walked one.
Stubbs started the Reds’ biggest homer splurge of the season by connecting in the first inning. The Reds wasted a chance to break the game open in the second when Joey Votto flied out with the bases loaded.
Leake hit a high, 1-2 pitch into the stands in left field with two outs in the fourth. He sprinted around the bases without fanfare, then got a congratulatory knuckle bump from Baker on the top step of the dugout.
Cozart was in a 3-for-28 slump when he followed with another homer three pitches later, the fourth of the season for the rookie shortstop. Stubbs came to bat, ran the count full and hit his fifth homer. It was the first time three Reds batters homered in succession since Sept. 10 at Colorado, when Chris Heisey, Votto and Jay Bruce did it against Alex White.
After Stubbs rounded the bases for the second time and got congratulations from everyone in the dugout, he stopped by Leake for a brief chat — about hitting, no doubt.
Chipper Jones was out of the Braves’ lineup for the third consecutive game with a swollen left calf, hit by a batted ball on Friday night. The Reds have put Jones’ name on the side of the bases for the series, honoring him in his last season before retirement. Jones expects to miss another game or two.
NOTES: Brandon Beachy makes his second career start against the Reds on Tuesday. Mat Latos is 2-2 in five career starts against the Braves. … The Reds hadn’t hit more than three homers in any game before Monday. The Braves hadn’t allowed more than three. … Caleb Lloyd, a 20-year-old Reds fan in left field, caught two of the three homers in the fourth inning, one off a carom. … The Reds will honor Jones on the field before the final game of the series Thursday, presenting him with one of the bases.