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Reds’ comeback falls just short

ATLANTA (AP) — Following a final play that was so close a review was needed, Bryan Price found consolation in Cincinnati’s strong comeback.

Price is just hoping the Reds didn’t lose a lot more than just a game, because two players left the game with injuries.

The Reds trailed by five runs after three innings before charging back and had two runners on base in the ninth before losing 5-4 to the Atlanta Braves on Friday night.

Third baseman Todd Frazier was pulled in the fifth with tightness in his left leg. Catcher Devin Mesoraco strained his left hamstring and stumbled after rounding third base in the seventh, before limping across home plate.

Price said he was protecting Frazier, who had previous tightness in his groin. He said he would know more about the severity of the injuries on Saturday.

Price was encouraged that Homer Bailey and the Reds regrouped after allowing five runs in the first three innings.

“Homer bounced back after a tough first three innings and gave us a chance to get back in the game and the bullpen did a real nice job,” Price said. “We defended well. We did a lot of things well. We just came up short.”

The Reds made things interesting in the ninth.

Braves closer Craig Kimbrel gave up a leadoff single to Roger Bernadina and walked Zack Cozart to open the inning. Kimbrel recovered to strike out Brayan Pena and Chris Heisey before earning his seventh save on Joey Votto’s groundout.

Freeman made a long stretch at first base for Chris Johnson’s throw from third base on Heisey’s groundball as Bernadina kept running toward home. Price came on the field to challenge first base umpire Vic Carapazza’s ruling that Freeman’s foot remained on the bag. The call was confirmed, ending the game.

Price said that when looking across the field he thought he saw “a huge gap” between Freeman’s foot and the bag. He said he agreed with the confirmed out call after seeing the replay.

“I had a chance to come up here and look at our own video, which is what they’re getting in New York, and it was a confirmed out call,” Price said. “They got the call right in the end, which is what we’re looking for.”

Ervin Santana (3-0) gave up four runs on nine hits in 6 2-3 innings.

Following singles by B.J. Upton and Freeman off Bailey (1-2) in the first inning, Justin Upton hit his team-leading sixth homer.

Bailey allowed five runs on nine hits in six innings. He allowed at least four earned runs for the fourth time in five starts this season and has a 6.15 ERA.

Is there a common thread to the bad results?

“Bad pitches,” Bailey said, smiling. “That typically does it.

“It’s just kind of one of those deals. I’ve just got to sharpen up a little bit. One pitch here, one pitch there. I would probably be more worried if I were walking a bunch of guys, getting behind in a lot of counts.”

Bailey said he needs better execution “in big situations.”

Jay Bruce had a run-scoring single in the Reds’ two-run sixth. Cincinnati added two more in the seventh, knocking Santana out of the game. Mesoraco scored on Billy Hamilton’s double. Votto had a run-scoring single off Luis Avilan.

A strong defensive play by right fielder Jason Heyward helped Santana in the first inning.

Votto doubled with one out in the first and moved to third on Phillips’ bloop single. Votto was thrown out at the plate on a strong throw by Heyward on Bruce’s fly ball. Votto, sliding head-first, was tagged out in the batter’s box and never reached the plate.

NOTES: Price said closer Aroldis Chapman, recovering from facial fractures and a mild concussion when hit by a line drive on March 19, will throw 35 to 40 pitches in batting practice on Saturday. If it goes well, it should be Chapman’s final test before he is cleared for a minor league rehab assignment.