Braves-Reds Preview

Raisel Iglesias is back with the Cincinnati Reds and that's enough to generate excitement.

A rainout last week gives Iglesias another spot start as the Reds try for back-to-back wins over the Atlanta Braves in Wednesday night's series finale.

Iglesias gave up two hits through four scoreless innings before surrendering three runs and leaving after the fifth of a 7-5, 11-inning loss to St. Louis in his major league debut on April 12. Signed last July to a $27 million, seven-year contract, the Cuban defector became the first Red since Mike Leake in 2010 to reach the majors without playing in the minors.

The right-hander, though, was sent to Triple-A Louisville a day later, and went 1-2 with a 3.80 ERA in four starts there. He spent the last three years as a reliever in his native country and at the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

"He's been throwing strikes," manager Bryan Price told MLB's official website. "He's been changing arm angles. He's going through the same growing pains, at times, that young pitchers do - losing feel for that particular arm slot every now and again or relying on it a little bit too much.

"It's transitioning back to starting. ... Everybody has been excited about his development. There's really no negatives."

Devin Mesoraco is 3 for 5 with a double, triple and two RBIs in his last two games after going 2 for 30 through his first 15. One of Cincinnati's five All-Stars last year, Mesoraco hasn't started behind the plate since April 11 due to an ailing hip, which has limited him to being a designated hitter and pinch-hitting duties.

Mesoraco came through as a pinch hitter Tuesday, connecting for a walkoff double to snap Cincinnati's three-game losing streak with a 4-3 win over Atlanta.

"I haven't done it before," Mesoraco said of his first walkoff hit. "I've had situations where I wish I could have done it. I'm just thankful I got a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on it.

"Getting this opportunity definitely helps."

The Reds (16-17) are getting surprising production from Brayan Pena, Mesoraco's backup. He's hitting .356, and is 10 for 17 in the past five games after collecting a season-high three hits Tuesday.

"He's been terrific," Price said. "He's been great behind the plate and terrific with the bat. It's a big help when you lose someone like Devin to have someone like Pena to step in."

The Braves (15-18) have dropped nine of their last 11 on the road. They're 1-4 so far on a nine-game trip, and the pitching staff can take much of the blame with a 5.62 ERA - 9.58 from the bullpen.

Giving the ball to Eric Stults (1-3, 4.84 ERA) may not help since he was hammered by the Reds on May 2 to the tune of six runs and 11 hits - two homers - in seven innings in an 8-4 loss. The left-hander had been 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA over his five previous meetings - two starts.

Stults allowed three runs and two homers with a season-high seven strikeouts in six innings of Friday's 9-2 loss at Washington.

Freddie Freeman has a .486 average during a nine-game hitting streak, while Nick Markakis is batting .343 on an eight-game run.


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