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Freeman's 2 HRs key rallies; Braves fall in 12

First baseman breaks up no-no with homer in seventh; Atlanta scores four in ninth
MLB.com @mlbbowman

CINCINNATI -- A natural clock exists within every baseball season. It does not work within the definitive measures of months and days. Instead, it is influenced by the daily events and trends that influence when the time is right to make particular in-game or roster decisions.

Absorbing two consecutive losses to a Reds team that entered this series having won just three of its first 21 games does not necessarily create reason to panic. In fact, there was a lot for the Braves to like about what occurred during the 9-7, 12-inning loss against the Reds on Tuesday night at Great American Ball Park.

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CINCINNATI -- A natural clock exists within every baseball season. It does not work within the definitive measures of months and days. Instead, it is influenced by the daily events and trends that influence when the time is right to make particular in-game or roster decisions.

Absorbing two consecutive losses to a Reds team that entered this series having won just three of its first 21 games does not necessarily create reason to panic. In fact, there was a lot for the Braves to like about what occurred during the 9-7, 12-inning loss against the Reds on Tuesday night at Great American Ball Park.

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But as May quickly approaches, there is reason to believe we are nearing the right time for the Braves to bolster their lineup with the additions of Ronald Acuna Jr. and Jose Bautista.

Braves calling up top prospect Acuna

"The thought of it is obviously exciting because Bautista has proven himself with what he has done," Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman said. "We saw what Acuna can do during Spring Training and what he's done in the Minor Leagues is awesome. But the guys here are what I care about right now."

Video: ATL@CIN: Freeman rips two deep home runs against Reds

Freeman uttered these words shortly after producing a two-homer performance that significantly aided the Braves' attempt to notch a comeback victory and avoid a second straight loss to the Reds. He broke up Tyler Mahle's no-hit bid with a home run in the three-run seventh and then fueled the four-run ninth with a leadoff homer against Raisel Iglesias.

Acuna received word late Tuesday the Braves will provide him his much-anticipated Major League debut on Wednesday. Bautista could arrive to become the starting third baseman within the next few days. These arrivals will affect left fielder Preston Tucker and third baseman Ryan Flaherty, who have both started to level off after spending most of April proving to be two of baseball's most surprising players.

After Freeman drilled his 421-foot shot in the seventh, Kurt Suzuki produced a two-run homer that chased Mahle, who held the Braves hitless through his first 89 pitches and then allowed three hits and three runs within his final eight pitches. Tucker followed Suzuki's homer with a groundout and Flaherty ended the seventh by grounding into a double play.

Video: ATL@CIN: Suzuki rips a two-run shot to left

Since entering this series with a National League-best .362 batting average, Flaherty has gone hitless in nine at-bats. Two games is not enough to judge a player. But the .215 career batting average Flaherty carried into this season is certainly trumped by the potential of Bautista, who despite being 37 years old still possesses the power potential he's displayed while hitting at least 20 homers each of the past eight seasons.

While Bautista went 1-for-3 for Triple-A Gwinnett on Tuesday night, Acuna batted behind him and went 2-for-4 with a double. The highly-touted prospect has 11 hits in his past 33 at-bats. In the process, Acuna generated the hot streak the Braves wanted to see before providing him his much-anticipated promotion.

Acuna will take over in left field for Tucker, who aided Tuesday's four-run ninth with a double but went 1-for-6 and was unable to secure Jesse Winker's long drive that became a leadoff two-bagger during the Reds' two-run eighth inning.

Video: ATL@CIN: Winker doubles off the glove of Tucker

"Every single guy has helped us win 12 games so far," Freeman said. "If the other guys come and fit into the 25-man team, then we can talk about it then. But right now, we have a team that is playing quality baseball and hopefully we can continue to do that."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Welcome back: The Braves promoted Max Fried from Gwinnett on Tuesday to provide long relief and ended up calling upon him once the game extended into the 12th inning. But the young lefty's season debut proved to be short as he issued a leadoff walk to Joey Votto and then surrendered Scooter Gennett's walk-off homer.

Video: ATL@CIN: Gennett crushes a two-run walk-off homer

"That one was more of a kind of get-me-over [pitch]," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "That's a pretty good hitter. We had him for that situation right there."

Ninth-inning rally: After Freeman secured his 12th career multi-homer game, Dansby Swanson drew a walk to load the bases for Johan Camargo, who provided a determined plate appearance of his own as he worked the count full before drawing a bases-loaded walk from Iglesias.

Video: ATL@CIN: Camargo works a bases-loaded walk in the 9th

Ugly second inning: The Reds used a pair of singles and a walk to load the bases in the second inning with one out. Freeman then fielded Mahle's chopper and made a high errant throw that prevented Suzuki from maintaining contact with the plate for a forceout. Billy Hamilton followed with a comebacker that Brandon McCarthy fumbled after attempting to make a barehanded grab. McCarthy also allowed Votto and Gennett to hit back-to-back homers in the fifth.

Video: ATL@CIN: Hamilton plates a run on RBI infield single

"It was a garbage inning," McCarthy said. "I was so spotty command-wise today and with my execution. Sometimes, it feels like that stuff is deserved because you're not doing enough to bully hitters and take over the game."

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Nick Markakis recorded the first out of the Reds' second inning by racing 52 feet in 3.6 seconds to make a head-first diving grab of Adam Duvall's sinking liner, which had a 42 percent catch probability. This was the Braves' right fielder's first four-star catch (26-50 percent catch probability) in two chances this year. He was 4-for-20 with such attempts last year.

Video: ATL@CIN: Markakis lays out for incredible diving grab

HE SAID IT
"It's just one of those games. They don't always go the way you want or the way you script them. You can't let it get you down. You've just got to turn the page." -- Snitker

Video: ATL@CIN: Snitker on Minter, comeback despite loss

UP NEXT
Matt Wisler will attempt to extend his stay within Atlanta's rotation when the Braves and Reds resume their four-game series Wednesday at 6:40 p.m. ET. Wisler was lined up to make just one start in place of the injured Anibal Sanchez, but earned another appearance as a starter when he limited the Mets to two hits and one run over seven innings on Thursday. Wisler will face Reds lefty Brandon Finnegan, who has struggled in two starts this season.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.

Atlanta Braves