Jose Costanza, who was called up from the minors late Friday, provided a huge spark for the Braves on Saturday with three hits during a 5-2 victory against the Reds.
ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Braves didn’t need their regular outfielders on Saturday. Their replacements did just fine.
Reed Johnson, Jose Constanza and Joey Terdoslavich combined for seven hits against Cincinnati starter Homer Bailey, and Braves starter Mike Minor helped himself at the plate in a 5-2 victory over the Reds before a crowd of 46,946 at Turner Field.
“I think Vegas lost a lost of money today (after) they saw our lineup,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “But you know what? You can’t handicap heart.”
Minor (9-4) retired 15 of the last 16 batters he faced after a shaky first two innings and put the Braves ahead for good with a two-run double in the fifth inning.
The left-hander allowed two runs and six hits, walked one and struck out seven in seven innings.
Dan Uggla hit his 17th home run of the season for the Braves and Brian McCann connected for his 12th, but the big lift offensively came from the fill-in outfielders.
Constanza, called up from the minors after Justin Upton, B.J. Upton and Jason Heyward were all injured in the first two games of the series, had three hits - one a bunt -- and an RBI.
“He kind of energizes us a little bit,” Gonzalez said. “We wanted a spark and he brought it a little bit.”
Johnson and Terdoslavich, making his first major league start, each had two hits and scored a run. Terdoslavich had a double.
“It was the bottom of the lineup that beat us,” Bailey said.
Bailey (5-8) lost his second straight start after pitching a no-hitter against San Francisco on July 2 in Cincinnati, allowing four runs and 10 hits. He struck out seven and walked one in six innings.
“I made some good pitches,” Bailey said. “Seven ground-ball hits. Go figure.”
Minor worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the first inning, but the Reds made it 2-0 in the second.
Zack Cozart scored on Corky Miller’s groundout after a leadoff triple and Shin-Soo Choo, extending his hitting streak to 11 games, followed Chris Heisey’s double with a RBI single.
McCann cut the Reds’ lead in half with a home run off Bailey in the fourth, pulling a 95 mph 2-and-2 pitch into the right field seats. Then Minor helped himself as the Braves took the lead in the fifth.
After a single by Johnson and double by Terdoslavich, Minor lined a double over third base to give the Braves a 3-2 lead.
“They hit some balls that found a hole, the one that Johnson hit, between first and second, then Homer throws a great pitch on Terdoslavich, he just sort of check-swung and it went down the line, then the pitcher got a hit and it was sort of like a merry-go-round for a while,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said.
“I thought it was a fastball and it was a slider,” Minor said, laughing at himself.
Minor retired 12 straight batters before Jay Bruce singled with one out in the sixth and faced the minimum in the inning when Bruce was caught stealing.
“I just tried to battle through,” said Minor, who had 52 pitches after two innings. “But truthfully, I felt good all the way through.”
The Braves padded their lead to 4-2 against Bailey in the bottom of the inning when Constanza delivered a RBI single.
Uggla’s home run came off reliever Alfredo Simon in the seventh. The Reds put two on with two out in the eighth against Luis Avilan, but Bruce flied out to Johnson in deep center field to end the threat.
Braves closer Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the ninth for his 26th save, including 16 in a row.
“The old skipper (Bobby Cox) used to tell me, ‘You never know when you are going to win a game and you never know when you are going to lose a game,’” Gonzalez said.
NOTES: LF Justin Upton (calf), CF B.J. Upton (abductor) and RF Heyward (hamstring) will be unavailable again Sunday. The Uptons were hurt Friday and Heyward the night before. … With the starting outfielders out, LF Constanza was from promoted from Triple-A Gwinnett and put in the leadoff spot. He batted .303 in 42 games with the Braves in 2011 and .250 in 37 game last year. … To make room for Constanza, the Braves optioned LHP Alex Wood to Gwinnett. The rookie pitched 3 2/3 innings in relief on Friday without allowing a hit. … The finale of the four-game series on Sunday will match rookie starters. Braves RHP Julio Teheran (7-4, 3.09 ERA) will face LHP Tony Cingrani (3-1, 3.30).