ATLANTA -- It was quite the debut for pitcher Jeremy Horst.
On Saturday, just hours after being called up from Triple-A Louisville, Horst earned a no-decision in the Reds' 7-6 loss to the Braves, allowing one run -- a homer by Brian McCann -- in 2 2/3 innings while striking out four.
Horst, who was called up after Homer Bailey went on the 15-day disabled list, entered in the fourth in relief of struggling starter Bronson Arroyo. Horst retired the side in order in his first frame, including looking strikeouts by Jordan Schafer and Chipper Jones and a popup to second base by Martin Prado.
In the bottom half of the inning, Horst got his first big league at-bat and singled through the right side, sending home Jonny Gomes from second to temporarily give the Reds a one-run lead. The hit matched his career total in the Minors, where he went 1-for-11.
The lead didn't last long, as McCann launched his second homer of the night on a hanging slider to begin the fifth, tying the score at 6. But Horst settled down after that, striking out Eric Hinske and Freddie Freeman and getting Dan Uggla to fly out.
"I basically was going pitch for pitch and trying not to let the game speed things up," Horst said. "[I] just tried to slow down and stay in control."
Horst exited with two outs in the next inning, as he surrendered a one-out double to pinch-hitter Wilkin Ramirez before getting Schafer to fly out.
"He did a great job. He had a number of firsts," manager Dusty Baker said. "First strikeout, first hit, first home run allowed. A lot of firsts tonight. We're proud of the job he did."
Horst was the second Louisville pitcher to join the Reds in the last two days. Right-hander Mike Leake was called up on Friday to start against the Braves and took the roster spot of reliever Daryl Thompson, who was optioned to Double-A Carolina.
"We liked what we saw in Spring Training," Baker said before the game. "He threw strikes. He moved the ball around."
Horst gives the Reds two left-handed relievers, with Bill Bray being the other. The rookie posted a 1.73 ERA in 26 innings with 23 strikeouts in 12 relief appearances for Louisville.
"I got another lefty, an important lefty," Baker said. "He's pitching pretty good down there, too, they tell me. He was throwing multiple innings. So he's capable of going multiple innings, and I can save Bray for a more important time in a situation late."
Horst became the second Red to make his Major League debut this week. Todd Frazier pinch-hit in Monday's loss to the Phillies.
Gomes makes the most of return to lineup
ATLANTA -- Outfielder Jonny Gomes shined in Saturday's 7-6 loss to the Braves, his first start in more than a week.
Gomes entered the game hitting just .168 with seven home runs and 19 RBIs -- including a 2-for-27 mark in his last 10 games -- but improved that average 23 points, to .191.
"We've got to put him back in there sooner or later," manager Dusty Baker said before the game. "He's on the team. I need his production sooner or later.
"The other guys don't have the potential to be a game-changer the way Jonny does, The other guys are doing well, but I've got to play him sometime. He's had success against [Braves starter Derek] Lowe. Everybody on my team plays."
After flying out in his first at-bat, Gomes tallied base hits in his next four plate appearances, including a leadoff double in the fifth.
He scored that inning and in the one before it, when the Reds sent nine batters to the plate and came away with five runs.
Gomes got the start in large part because of his success against Lowe, having gone 3-for-6 with a homer lifetime against the right-hander.
Venters makes an impression on Baker
ATLANTA -- Count Reds manager Dusty Baker among those baffled by Braves reliever Jonny Venters.
"He's a nasty man," Baker said. "He's one of the nastiest around."
Venters has appeared in three career games against Baker's Reds, allowing one run on five hits with five strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings. He's 3-0 with a 0.59 ERA in 30 2/3 innings this season and has struck out 28.
Venters didn't appear in Friday's series opener, which the Reds won, 5-1. That was certainly good news for Baker.
"The game plan is to have the lead when he might be in the game," Baker said, laughing. "That's a pretty good game plan, isn't it?"
Baker compared the second-year pro with such former All-Stars as Joe Sambito and Sparky Lyle, certainly high praise for such a young pitcher. Sambito led the Astros in saves from 1978 to 1981, and Lyle was a three-time All-Star and the 1977 American League Cy Young Award winner for the Yankees.
"He's mighty young, but he's mighty good," Baker said. "You don't see many lefties, but lefties that have closer stuff are nasty lefties. They can get anybody out."
Recently optioned pitcher Edinson Volquez will make his first start for Triple-A Louisville on Saturday night, when left-hander Aroldis Chapman is also scheduled to make a rehab appearance.
In five games this week, outfielder Jay Bruce is hitting .400 with three home runs and 12 RBIs. He carries a season-high nine-game hitting streak into Saturday's game, a span that includes six multihit games.
It isn't just Bruce who has been producing at the plate for the Reds lately. Cincinnati and St. Louis are the only two teams in the Majors with 11 players who have produced at least 10 RBIs. The Reds are one of only five teams that have six players with at least five home runs.