McCoy: Braves pitching shuts down Reds

Atlanta wins second straight game in series with 2-1 win

The Atlanta Braves received their 2021 World Series championship rings during a red-carpet extravaganza before Saturday night’s game in Truist Park.

Then the Braves showed the Cincinnati Reds how they did it, a three-hit, four-pitcher 2-1 victory.

Kyle Wright, A.J. Minter, Darren O’Day and Will Smith turned the Reds into an offensively-challenged team.

The Reds never had more than one runner on base in any inning and only two reached second base — one scoring during a mini-rally in the ninth.

Atlanta scored the runs it needed in the first inning against Vladimir Gutierrez. Three straight one-out hits and a sacrifice fly produced two runs.

Matt Olson singled, Austin Riley singled, Marcell Ozuna singled for one run and Ozzie Albies hit the sacrifice fly for the second run.

And that was it — a third straight loss for Gutierrez, dating back to last August.

In his first 16 starts last year, Gutierrez was 9-4 with six quality starts. In September he was 0-2 with no quality starts.

After the first, Gutierrez pitched scoreless baseball for 3 1/3 innings, then the bullpen held fast, hoping the offense would snap to it.

It never did.

The Cincinnati defense prevented the Braves from expanding their lead. Center fielder Nick Senzel made an incredible diving catch after a long run on a line drive ripped by Alex Dickerson in the sixth.

And two Braves were cut down at home plate on base hits.

Ozuna doubled down the left field line in the third and Olson tried to score from first. He was gunned down — left fielder Jake Fraley to shortstop Kyle Farmer to catcher Aramis Garcia.

It was the Ozuna-Olson combination again in the sixth. This time Olson was on second when Ozuna singled to left. Aristides Aquino, who pinch-hit for Fraley, threw a laser beam to catcher Garcia to wipe out Olson again.

In addition to having two runners erased at home plate, the Braves stranded 10 runners … and got away with it.

Atlanta starter Wright held the Reds to two hits over six innings with one walk and six strikeouts.

The Reds put a runner on first base in each of the first three innings, but none budged from that spot.

Wright then retired nine straight until he walked Tommy Pham to open the seventh and was replaced by Minter.

Pham stole second, the one and only Reds runner to locate second base until the ninth, but pinch-hitter Aquino fouled out and Senzel flied to right.

Submariner Darren O’Day pitched a 1-2-3 eighth. Smith retired the first two in the ninth, then walked Pham on a full count, bringing Votto to the plate, representing the tying run.

Smith balked Pham to second base, then Votto worked the count to 3-and-2 before poking a run-scoring single to left field against the shift, scoring Pham.

But Aquino ended it by popping out.

For the second straight night, Cincinnati’s bullpen was perfection. Hunter Strickland (1 2/3 innings), Justin Wilson (2/3 inning), Ryan Hendrix (1/3 inning) and Dauri Moreta (1 inning) kept the Braves off the board.

After winning the opener, the Reds have dropped two straight and send Hunter Greene to the mound Sunday afternoon for his much-awaited major league debut.

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