By HAL McCOY
This is the anatomy of a head-scratching victory.
After the first inning Tuesday night in Turner Field, the Cincinnati Reds had one hit. One.
At one point 17 straight Reds made outs. Ten Reds struck out 10 times. They had three hits for the entire game.
They won, 3-1. How? Well, for the main thing they were playing the Atlanta Braves, baseball’s version of Everybody’s Patsy. These aren’t the Atlanta Braves of manager Bobby Cox and pitchers Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Steve Avery. These are the Atlanta Papooses.
SECONDLY THE REES eceived outstanding pitching from starter Brandon Finnegan and, yes, the bullpen — including just-recalled J.J. Hoover.
Finnegan, trying to prove he belongs in the rotation and not in the bullpen, where the Reds thought he’d be when they acquired him last year in the Johnny Cueto trade.
And he is proving it, even though he likes to tempt disaster by putting runners on base, mostly through walks.
He pitched six innings Tuesday night and only came out because it took him 102 pitches to get there, holding the Braves to one run and four hits, but mixing in three walks.
The Braves, 18-and-46, went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. The Braves had runners on base in five of the six innings pitched by Finnegan but baseball’s lowest scoring team pushed across only one run.
ATLANTA STARTER JULIO Teheran made one mistake the entire game, a misplaced fastball in the first inning that Jay Bruce blasted over the right field wall, a three-run home run. Before the home run, Teheran walked Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips singled. Then the Reds got nothing more off Teheran, who is 2-and-7 with a 2.93 earned run average.
Bruce has 15 home runs and a team-leading 49 runs batted in. The home run came in front of scouts from the Chicago White Sox, Baltimore Orioles, San Francisco Giants and the New York Yankees, all teams looking to acquire a power-hitting outfielder.
AFTER FINNEGAN LEFT, J.J. Hoover came on and appeared to be a new man from the one the Reds sent back to Class AAA Louisville due to total lack of effectiveness.
Hoover pitched two innings and faced the minimum six batters, although he hit Freddie Freeman with a pitch in his second inning. Freeman, though, was erased on a double play ground ball.
There was some excitement in the bottom of the ninth when Blake Wood came in to close it out.
And he quickly filled the bases with no outs on a walk to Adonis Garcia, a single by Tyler Flowers (who had struck out three straight times) and a walk to Jace Peterson.
Another bullpen meltdown? Not this time. Pinch-hitter A.J. Pierzynki struck out on three straight pitches and the game ended when Mallex Smith hit into a double play — Zack Cozart, to Brandon Phillips to Joey Votto.
In addition to the recall of Hoover, the Reds also recalled Jose Peraza, while pitcher Daniel Wright was optioned back to Class AAA Louisville and Jordan Pacheco was placed on the 15-day disabled list.