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Braves lose chance for rare back-to-back wins, falling 8-4 to Reds; Pierzynski streak done

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ATLANTA — The Braves lost a chance for rare back-to-back victories, and A.J. Pierzynski lost a season-long hitting streak.

It was that kind of night for the Braves.

Marlon Byrd, Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart all hit home runs for the Reds in Cincinnati's 8-4 victory on Saturday night, preventing the Braves from recording consecutive wins for the first time since the season's opening week.

For Pierzynski, his 13-game hitting streak ended on an 0-for-4 night. Byrd made a diving catch of a Pierzynski line drive in right field in the fourth inning and Jay Bruce made a sliding catch in right field in the sixth.

"This is the way the baseball gods are," said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez. "Today, I thought he hit it harder than two or three other games during the hitting streak. He hit the ball on the nose at least two times."

Eric Stults (1-2) took the loss, giving up six runs in seven innings, including a pair of home runs.

"He pitched better than the numbers give him credit for," Pierzynski said. "It just wasn't our night. They had good at-bats. Give them all the credit in the world. They got some infield hits on some tough pitches."

Cameron Maybin took advantage of his first start since April 28, going 2 for 3 with a walk and three RBIs. Maybin, who was acquired in the Craig Kimbrel trade, had been sharing time in center field with Eric Young, Jr.

"Every day I'm ready to play, whether I'm in the lineup or not," Maybin said. "I can affect the game as a defensive replacement or a pinch runner. I'm playing out of a pretty good toolbox. I try to use my tools to the best of my ability."

The Braves slipped into third place in the NL East as they continue to struggle to string victories together.

PHOTO: Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Kevin Gregg celebrates with Brayan Pena after defeating the Atlanta Braves 8-4 in a baseball game Saturday, May 2, 2015 in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Kevin Liles)
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Kevin Gregg celebrates with Brayan Pena after defeating the Atlanta Braves 8-4 in a baseball game Saturday, May 2, 2015 in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Kevin Liles)

"We're still in a pretty good place in our division, which is good for as bad as we've been," Maybin said. "You have to look at the positive. We have to grind it and find a way. It is a long season and teams go through little skids here and there. I believe in this group."

Jason Marquis, who was drafted by the Braves in 1996, improved to 3-1. He lasted 6 1/3 innings despite taking a line drive off his forearm in the second inning, striking out four and giving up three runs and five hits.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Reds: Starting pitcher Homer Bailey will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery on Friday in Cincinnati.

Braves: The Braves transferred LHP Mike Minor from the 15-day to 60-day DL. Minor has left shoulder inflammation and has no timetable for a return, according to Braves general manager John Hart. "We don't see him coming back anytime soon," he said. "At this point, things haven't progressed."

UP NEXT

Reds: Ace Johnny Cueto (2-2) takes the mound for the finale of the four-game series. Four of Cueto's first five appearances this season have been quality starts and he boasts a 1.95 ERA. Cueto threw eight shutout innings against the Braves in his only appearance against them in 2014 as the Reds lost 1-0 in 10 innings.

Braves: Julio Teheran (2-1) will look to bounce back three sub-par starts that have seen him surrender 12 runs in 15 innings (7.20 ERA). He said he is seeking to rely more on his fastball against the Reds, against whom he did not allow a run in 14 innings last season (1-0, 0.00).

SECOND CHANCE FOR CIRIACO

Pedro Ciriaco is finally with the Braves. The infielder was told he made the Braves opening day roster two days before the season started, only to get shipped to Triple-A Gwinnet a day later to clear roster space following the Braves' six-player deal with the Padres that included Craig Kimbrel. The Braves purchased his contract and he joined the team Saturday after 20 games with Gwinnet, where he hit .234. He is a career .270 hitter in parts of five Major League seasons and will be used as a utility infielder.

RUNNING REDS

The Reds are 29 for 30 in stolen bases this season. According to Elias Sports Bureau, no team has stolen 29 of 30 bases to start a season since the "caught stealing" statistic started being kept in 1951. The Reds have six steals in the series and are second in MLB behind the Astros.

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