The All-Star break is arriving at a perfect time for the Braves, who suddenly find themselves without the services of Jason Heyward, B.J. Upton and Justin Upton. But first, Atlanta must make it through one more game with a patchwork outfield.
The Braves will host the Reds for the finale of a four-game series on Sunday afternoon at Turner Field, trying to complete a series victory after taking two of the first three. The National League East leaders pulled out a win on Saturday, their first since all three were injured.
Heyward left Thursday's game in the second inning when he strained his right hamstring while running the bases. On Friday, B.J. Upton strained his right adductor muscle diving for a line drive in the first inning, and his brother exited in the seventh with a left calf strain. None will return until at least Friday, when the Braves come back from the All-Star break.
With Jordan Schafer already on the disabled list, the Braves called up Jose Constanza on Saturday and gave him the start in left field. Reed Johnson played center, and rookie Joey Terdoslavich was in right. Atlanta still generated enough offense against the Reds' Homer Bailey to emerge with a 5-2 win, with the three outfielders going a combined 7-for-11.
On Sunday, the Braves will face rookie left-hander Tony Cingrani, who is 3-1 with a 3.30 ERA in 14 games, including nine starts. This will be his third outing since rejoining the rotation on July 3.
Cingrani, who has never faced Atlanta, held the Brewers to two runs on three hits over seven innings on Tuesday, striking out 10. The only damage against him came in the fifth when he walked Martin Maldonado and gave up a home run to Logan Schafer.
"Two mistakes. Walking Maldonado after being 0-2 and the first pitch to Schafer. I was trying to get ahead of him and he jumps me," Cingrani said. "I did my job. It's frustrating you can't get a win, but it's a game."
The Braves will counter with Julio Teheran (7-4, 3.09), who is facing the Reds for the first time. The 22-year-old has dominated over his past 14 starts, with a 2.36 ERA and 5.6 strikeouts per walk.
Teheran picked up a victory against the Marlins on Tuesday, when he gave up four runs (one earned) on seven hits in 7 1/3 innings.
Reds: Streak over for bullpen
Cincinnati's bullpen had its scoreless streak stopped at 32 2/3 innings on Friday night when the Braves' Freddie Freeman hit a two-out RBI single off closer Aroldis Chapman. The streak spanned 10 games and set a modern franchise record.
The bullpen gave up another run on Saturday, when Alfredo Simon served up a home run to Dan Uggla in the seventh inning. Cincinnati began the day ranked 13th in the Majors in relievers' ERA, at 3.47.
• Left fielder Chris Heisey hit leadoff for the first time this season on Saturday and went 1-for-4 with a double. Heisey had started 30 games there in his career, including 11 last season.
Shin-Soo Choo hit second, and Zack Cozart dropped to seventh in the order.
Braves: Constanza makes a splash
In his first game with the Braves this season, Constanza went 3-for-4 with an RBI out of the leadoff spot. He was hitting .263 with a .320 on-base percentage and 18 stolen bases for Triple-A Gwinnett this season.
Constanza had played 79 games for Atlanta over the past two seasons, hitting .281 with a .332 on-base percentage.
• Needing a roster spot for Constanza and not ready to send anyone to the DL, the Braves optioned left-handed reliever Alex Wood to Gwinnett on Saturday. The rookie owns a 2.45 ERA in 16 games this season, including one start, but after throwing 3 2/3 innings on Friday, he likely would not have been available before the All-Star break anyway.
• Choo went 2-for-4 on Saturday, extending his hitting streak to 11 games. Choo is 19-for-46 (.413) with four doubles and five walks over that span.
• Teheran has a 1.79 ERA over his last seven home starts.