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MIA@ATL: Beachy dominant to earn first career shutout

Braves right-hander Brandon Beachy enters Tuesday's game against the Reds leading the Major Leagues with a 1.33 ERA following his first career shutout last Thursday. While he might not be considered the ace as long as veteran right-hander Tim Hudson is around, Beachy has been everything a top-of-the-rotation starter is supposed to be.

The Reds hoped Mat Latos would be that kind of pitcher when they traded four players to the Padres for the young right-hander. So far, Latos hasn't quite lived up to expectations. He has made just two quality starts in eight tries.

One of Latos' problems has been pitching deep into games. He has only pitched into the seventh inning twice. Beachy had a similar problem last season, but he has changed his approach and is now able to stay in the game longer.

"I've been more aggressive," Beachy said. "Even when I'm getting behind in the count, I'm not doing it in the same way I used to. I'm hoping I can get some quick outs. I'm not getting the strikeouts I used to get, but I'll take a fly ball as long as it's an out."

Against the Marlins on Thursday, Beachy needed 122 pitches to throw a five-hit shutout. He didn't walk a batter and struck out six.

Latos, meanwhile, struggled again with his pitch count in his last start Thursday against the Mets in New York. He pitched five-plus innings and threw 100 pitches in Cincinnati's 9-4 loss.

"It's just the way it's been going for me lately," Latos said after the game. "Sometimes I'm not executing my pitches, and it gets my pitch count up. Sometimes I feel like we fall in love with the same pitch over and over again and you have guys that battle."

Braves: Chipper remains day to day with bruise
• Braves third baseman Chipper Jones did not play Monday for the third straight game after suffering a bad bruise on his left leg Friday against the Rays. Jones had expected to return to action Monday in Cincinnati, but he told reporters before the game he was still "a day or two away."

Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he was hopeful Jones could play Tuesday.

"I keep saying day to day, because I'm always hopeful that he's in the lineup. He's done it before," Gonzalez said. "He wants to play. He's progressing well."

• With Jones out, Braves third baseman Juan Francisco got the start Monday. It was his first game in Cincinnati since being traded to the Braves by the Reds. Francisco didn't play when the two teams met last week, meaning his second-inning homer in the Braves' 4-1 loss run came in his first at-bat against his former club.

Reds: Cincinnati happy to be home
• The Reds won their first game back in Cincinnati on Monday after playing 13 of their past 16 games away from home. The Reds went 8-5 on the road in that span, including winning a series against the Yankees over the weekend.

The four-game series against the Braves is the start of a seven-game homestand for the Reds, which left fielder Ryan Ludwick is looking forward to.

"I think it's kind of nice to sleep in our own beds and have a comfort level and be around our family and friends," he said. "Obviously, we have the home crowd on our side. There's always an advantage to being at home, and the key is taking advantage of that advantage."

• This series marks the second time in a week the two teams are meeting. They split a two-game series in Atlanta last week.

With the Braves leading the National League East over the Nationals by a half-game, manager Dusty Baker said the Reds are in for a tough series, especially because it's four games long.

"We're playing a very tough team, an excellent team," Baker said. "This is a four-game series, it's a long series. The main thing, it starts with pitching."

Worth noting
• With Jones out again Monday, the Braves are 7-12 without him in the lineup. They are 19-5 when he plays.

• The Reds hit four solo home runs against Braves left-hander Mike Minor in Monday's 4-1 victory. Beachy has allowed just one home run this season. Comments