Juan Francisco, shown here in a game earlier this season, hit his first career grand slam Wednesday vs. the Reds.
CINCINNATI -- Atlanta third baseman Juan Francisco's first career grand slam highlighted a five-run eighth inning, and Dan Uggla hit a pair of solo homers lifting the Braves to a 7-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in the finale of a three-game series Wednesday afternoon at Great American Ball Park.
"Juan's got some juice in his bat," said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez. "It was a good win after last night. We showed some resiliency and got back after it. You feel good after a game like that."
Francisco's grand slam, the first by a Braves player this season, came on a 2-1 pitch from right-hander J.J. Hoover. Francisco, once a highly-touted 3B prospect in the Reds organization, was acquired by the Braves in exchange for Hoover in April 2012.
"It just felt good, it just felt good that I was able to hit my first major league grand slam," said Francisco, when asked about the significance of doing it against his former team.
Wednesday's relatively comfortable win was welcomed by the Braves after Cincinnati rallied to win the previous night's game with back-to-back homers in the bottom of the ninth.
"Today was one of those less stressful wins," said Uggla.
Despite struggling with his control at times, Braves starter Mike Minor (4-2) earned the victory, allowing just four hits, including Zack Cozart's solo homer, over seven innings.
"Mike did a nice job for us," said Gonzalez. "He gave us an opportunity to win."
Cozart went 2-for-4 for Cincinnati. Jay Bruce hit a solo home run in the ninth inning off Anthony Varvaro, who allowed one run and three hits in two innings.
"Hopefully this will get Cozart started," said Reds manager Dusty Baker. "We don't need him to hit home runs but I was more encouraged by the hit up the middle. We need him to get on base."
Minor, who ranks third in the NL in strikeout-to-walk ratio, walked three and struck out seven on Wednesday. He ran into trouble in the second.
Brandon Phillips doubled leading off the inning. Then Minor, who had issued just five walks in his previous six starts, walked Bruce and Todd Frazier to load the bases.
The Braves defense assisted Minor when left-fielder Evan Gattis threw out Phillips at the plate trying to score on a fly ball by Donald Lutz.
"The more he plays out there, the better he gets," said Gonzalez of Gattis. "He's a nice option for us."
Cozart launched a 3-2 pitch into the left field seats for his fifth homer, putting Cincinnati ahead 1-0. But following Cozart's homer, Minor retired 10 of the next 11 batters he faced, four via strikeout.
"If things do go bad for me now, I'm not dwelling on it," said Minor. "That's one of the biggest improvements I've made. I'm able to move on in those situations."
Uggla tied the score with a one-out solo homer in the fourth off Reds starter Mike Leake. His second homer came on a 3-2 pitch from Leake in the sixth, putting the Braves ahead 2-1.
Leake (2-2) had allowed just one homer in five previous starts. He allowed four earned runs on eight hits in seven-plus innings.
Trailing by a run in the seventh, Cincinnati had runners on first and second. Leake, who leads all big-league pitchers in hits the past four seasons, batted for himself and flew out to left.
"We are stretching (Leake) out and he is a good hitter," said Baker. "They had a left-hander and right-hander in the bullpen. I didn't want to send (Derrick) Robinson up because he's not ready to hit from the left side, so Leake was a better option than any pinch-hitter I had."
Atlanta broke the game open in the eighth.
Despite 96 pitches, Leake started the inning and allowed singles to Jordan Schafer and Andrelton Simmons putting runners on first and third.
Schafer, batting leadoff for the sixth time this season, went 3-for-5 with a triple and run scored.
Left-hander Sean Marshall was brought in to face Freddie Freeman who singled to right, driving home Schafer to make the score 3-1.
Hoover walked Justin Upton to load the bases. Simmons was forced at home on a throw from Cozart, but Francisco's grand slam followed three pitches later.
"I only have one left-hander," said Baker. "I would have brought one in to face Francisco but I didn't want Marshall to face either Upton or Uggla."
NOTES: It was Uggla's 17th career multi-home run game, first this season. ... Simmons' four hits are a career-high. ... Braves OF Jason Heyward, on the disabled list since April 22 after undergoing emergency appendectomy surgery, will begin a Triple-A rehab assignment on Thursday. Heyward took batting practice Wednesday for the third straight day. The length of his rehab assignment is undetermined. ... Reds RHP Johnny Cueto, on the DL since April 15 with a strained right lat muscle, is expected to make a rehab start for Single-A Dayton on Thursday. ... Wednesday's starting pitchers were selected with consecutive picks in the 2009 draft. Leake (Arizona State) was the eighth overall choice by the Reds, while Minor (Vanderbilt) was picked seventh overall by the Braves.
Braves move Gattis to OF, keep red-hot bat in lineup
Not wanting to lose the rookie slugger's bat, manager Fredi Gonzalez moved Justin Upton to right field and stationed Gattis in left when catcher Brian McCann came off the disabled list Monday.
Gattis booted one ball, giving the Reds an extra base on a single but had a double himself in his first game in the outfield. He returned to left field Tuesday and was slated to play there again in Wednesday's series finale in Cincinnati.
Gattis played 37 games in left field last year in the minors. That means he had more experience there than at first base, where he started three games when Freddie Freeman was on the disabled list in mid-April.
But Gonzalez will have to rethink things again when Jason Heyward returns from the disabled list, likely in a little more than a week. The right fielder, who had his appendix removed April 22, may be ready to go out on a minor league rehab assignment by the weekend.
As McCann eases back into full-time duty, Gonzalez plans to catch him about two out of every three games.
"He ain't going to be the McCann of old where you can run him in there for six, seven days in a row," Gonzalez said. "At least not at the very beginning."
Gonzalez was eager to have McCann's bat back in the lineup, especially given that he doesn't traditionally strike out much. He had a two-run single in his second game back.
"I think he adds a little different dynamic to our lineup right now," Gonzalez said. "He's obviously a dangerous hitter, but he's a guy that doesn't strike out historically. You've got him and Gattis in the lineup there that can put the ball in play."