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PIT@CIN: Leake doubles, homers and strikes out eight

Reds right-hander Mike Leake, who will start against the Braves on Saturday at Turner Field, was on the wrong side of one of the bigger headlines in baseball this April. In his most recent start, Leake surrendered Ike Davis' second grand slam of the season and his first since the Mets traded him to the Pirates.

"I wouldn't call Ike's a bad pitch. I broke his bat on the home run," Leake said. "He just was able to get his hands to it and do some damage."

Despite broken wood and a good pitch, the only thing that showed up in the box score was a four in Leake's earned-runs column for the second time this season.

Despite his penchant for surrendering home runs to Mets first basemen past and present -- Lucas Duda homered twice against the right-hander on April 4 -- Leake has also given the Reds plenty to admire this season.

He outdueled the Cardinals' Shelby Miller on April 9 and outperformed young Pirates ace Gerrit Cole six days later. He even hit a home run of his own on April 15, bringing home what ended up giving the Reds a lead they wouldn't surrender in a 7-5 victory against the Pirates.

After watching Leake, 26, post career-best numbers with a 14-7 record and a 3.37 ERA in 31 starts and 192 1/3 innings in 2013, Reds manager Bryan Price entered the season aware of how good Leake can be.

"You can really look at 2013 for Leaker and go, 'Boy, he's arrived. He's a guy now. We should be able to expect this.' My feel was to forget the expectations," Price said on Feb. 16. "Let's work and continue to strive for greatness. Be as good as you can be. There are no limitations on his ability to be a guy we feel as good about as anybody in our rotation every fifth day when he takes the ball."

Leake opposes Braves right-hander David Hale, who has shined and faltered as part of a patchwork Atlanta rotation that has taken the Majors by storm. His impressive 2.93 ERA ranks last among Braves starters.

With Mike Minor on a rehab assignment, Hale looked likely to lose his rotation spot by the end of April heading into his most recent start. However, only two earned runs given up in six innings against the Mets on April 20 earned him another outing.

Hale is aiming for his second straight quality start and his third in six career starts.

Braves: B.J. Upton one hit shy of 1,000
Atlanta center fielder B.J. Upton finished 1-for-4 with an infield single on Friday night, putting him one hit away from career hit 1,000. Upton is in line to become the first Brave to reach 1,000 hits since Brian McCann did so on June 3, 2013.

Upton nearly reached the milestone twice on Friday night. After recording hit No. 999 in the first, he lined out to Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton in the second. In the fifth, Brandon Phillips picked a sharp grounder to second to retire Upton.

Reds: Frazier, Mesoraco exit Friday's game due to injuries
Third baseman Todd Frazier and catcher Devin Mesoraco both exited Friday's 5-4 loss to the Braves due to injuries. Frazier exited with tightness in his left groin while Mesoraco left with a strained left hamstring.

Mesoraco suffered his injury when he fell as he was rounding third base in the seventh on a Hamilton double. He managed to get up and score the run before leaving the field. Former Braves catcher Brayan Pena replaced Mesoraco.

A trainer came out to check on Frazier after he led off the second with a double, but Frazier remained in the game and took another at-bat in the fourth before he was pulled for Neftali Soto prior to the bottom of the fifth.

Cincinnati began the season with eight players on the disabled list, more than any other team in the Majors. Right-handed reliever Trevor Bell upped the total to nine on April 8.

Worth noting
• Jason Heyward owns a six-game hitting streak. He is batting .346 (9-for-26) during the streak.

• Craig Kimbrel recorded his 146th career save on Friday night. He is only eight saves away from tying John Smoltz's franchise record of 154.

• The Braves are 9-0 when scoring first this season compared to 6-7 when they do not.

• Jay Bruce drove in a run on Friday night, putting him one away from reaching 500 career RBIs. Comments