Major League Baseball
Preview
Atlanta at Cincinnati
When: 7:10 PM ET, Friday, August 22, 2014
Where: Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, Ohio

Justin Upton is starting to generate talk as a dark horse candidate for National League MVP, and that conversation will grow louder if the Atlanta Braves’ left fielder continues punishing opposing pitchers. The Braves play the second of four games at the Cincinnati Reds on Friday as Upton looks to extend a 12-game hitting streak during which he is batting .400 with four homers and 18 RBIs. Cincinnati’s pitching staff continues to struggle, with the Reds allowing eight runs in the first five innings of Thursday’s 8-0 series-opening loss.

The Reds have dropped nine of their past 10, their pitching staff posting a 6.17 ERA during that stretch and manager Bryan Price deploying outfielder Skip Schumaker to pitch the ninth Thursday. Cincinnati has lost six in a row, allowing five runs or more in all six defeats. The Braves are 6-1 in their past seven games and sit one game behind San Francisco for the final NL wild-card spot, scoring 28 runs during the first four games of a 10-game road trip.

TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, MLB Network, FSN South (Atlanta), FSN Ohio (Cincinnati)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Braves LH Mike Minor (5-8, 5.16 ERA) vs. Reds RH Mat Latos (4-3, 3.10)

Minor made his best start in six weeks Sunday against Oakland, giving up two runs on four hits in seven innings with seven strikeouts. He has 14 strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings in two starts since the Braves skipped his turn in the rotation in early August. Minor is 2-1 in three career starts against Cincinnati with a 3.15 ERA, but has allowed five homers in 13 innings at Great American Ball Park.

Latos is 2-0 in four August starts with a 2.10 ERA and easily could have won both of his no-decisions. He allowed three runs on eight hits with seven strikeouts in five innings in the opener of a doubleheader Sunday in Colorado, and surrendered one run in seven innings in getting a no-decision five days earlier against Boston. Latos is 3-3 with a 3.54 ERA in seven career appearances against the Braves.

WALK-OFFS

1. Cincinnati SS Zack Cozart is 4-for-10 with two homers against Minor.

2. The Braves are 4-0 against the Reds in 2014 and 18-8 against NL Central competition.

3. Upton is 8-for-14 with seven RBIs in four games against Cincinnati this season.

PREDICTION: Braves 5, Reds 3
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away East Central West IL
Atlanta 67-61 W1 37-28 30-33 30-22 18-8 12-21 7-10
Cincinnati 61-67 L6 32-30 29-37 11-15 28-23 16-18 6-11
Last Meeting
Atlanta Cincinnati
Date Away Home Avg HR OPS Avg HR OPS
8/21/14 ATL 8 CIN 0 .242 1 .794 .161 0 .413
Player Stats
Season Series
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Atlanta J. Upton .571 8 1.660
Cincinnati B. Phillips .267 4 .667
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Atlanta J. Upton 2 3 7
Cincinnati B. Phillips 0 2 0
Pitching ERA Avg K
Atlanta 1.22 .252 27
Cincinnati 4.67 .180 31
Season
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Atlanta F. Freeman .295 144 .876
Cincinnati T. Frazier .281 134 .801
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Atlanta J. Upton 24 67 84
Cincinnati T. Frazier 21 68 66
Pitching ERA Avg K
Atlanta 3.35 .246 1044
Cincinnati 3.58 .243 1024