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Romano delivers vs. Braves, backed by 3 HRs

MLB.com

ATLANTA -- Sal Romano halted his recent struggles by delivering one of the finest starts of his rookie season and R.A. Dickey's attempt to produce another gem evaporated as the Reds tagged him for three home runs in the sixth inning of Friday night's 5-3 win over the Braves at SunTrust Park.

"I was attacking the strike zone and using all three of my pitches," Romano said. "I had a great mix tonight and was able to locate all my pitches. I worked really well with Tucker [Barnhart] and guys were able to make some plays."

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ATLANTA -- Sal Romano halted his recent struggles by delivering one of the finest starts of his rookie season and R.A. Dickey's attempt to produce another gem evaporated as the Reds tagged him for three home runs in the sixth inning of Friday night's 5-3 win over the Braves at SunTrust Park.

"I was attacking the strike zone and using all three of my pitches," Romano said. "I had a great mix tonight and was able to locate all my pitches. I worked really well with Tucker [Barnhart] and guys were able to make some plays."

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Adam Duvall, Eugenio Suarez and Jesse Winker homered during the decisive four-run sixth for the Reds, who saw Romano allow just one run and five hits over seven innings. Matt Adams' one-out homer in the second inning accounted for the only damage incurred by the Reds right-hander, who entered with a 6.46 ERA over six starts since the All-Star break.

Video: CIN@ATL: Duvall, Suarez and Winker each homer

"[Romano] did a really nice job of not overthrowing, and staying within his skill set, and making pitches with his three-pitch mix," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He made great pitches with his changeup today, [and] with a really good sinker got inside on some lefties."

Dickey had produced a 2.12 ERA over his past 10 starts and it looked like he might be constructing another stellar start as he scattered four hits and notched seven of his nine strikeouts through five innings. But the sixth-inning power barrage added to the frustration he has experienced at SunTrust Park, where he has surrendered 16 of his 22 homers allowed this season.

"In a different park, maybe one of those is [an out], but for the most part, you've got to live with that," Dickey said. "It's not easy. It's not the life for everybody. It's one of those things. It's baseball and you've just got to keep a good attitude about it and keep persevering. I'm in a good place mechanically and I look forward to my next outing."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Three was enough: Joey Votto's sixth-inning leadoff single set the stage for Duvall to follow with his 29th homer -- a two-run shot that gave the Reds their first runs. Suarez's one-out solo shot to center field was hit against an 0-2 knuckleball that was off of the plate. Dickey's sudden struggles with his patented pitch were extended when Winker turned on a 1-0 knuckler and watched it sneak over the right-field wall for his third homer in 69 career at-bats.

"Duvall did a good job of hitting one that was really just a roller up there," Dickey said. "But the other two weren't too bad. The Winker kid hit a wall-scraper down the right-field line and it looked like it was a good 0-2 [pitch] to Suarez, but he did a great job of staying on it. That's the nature of the pitch. You've got to live and die with it. It kind of bit me tonight."

Rally stopper: Romano stranded two when he got Brandon Phillips to fly out to end the fifth inning, but the most impressive escape was completed in the eighth. After Tyler Flowers cut Atlanta's deficit to two runs with an RBI double and Adams nearly homered before drawing an eight-pitch walk against Kevin Shackelford, Blake Wood entered and squashed the threat with Ozzie Albies' flyout to left field.

"In that situation, with guys on base and in a tough spot, the more experienced arm is the right guy," Price said. "He did a great job on Albies, getting the first-pitch out."

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QUOTABLE
"We cut it there and got a little momentum going. Matt hits the one nine miles just foul. I had a good feeling there with Oz before he flew out. I thought he was going to do something big there." -- Braves manager Brian Snitker, whose team entered the game with a National League-best 208 runs scored in the seventh inning or later

"I knew it had a chance to go. Obviously it is nice to see it get over. It kind of got in on me, but I thought I got enough of it. It was nice to get that extra run." -- Winker, who turned 24 Friday, on his third home run

Video: CIN@ATL: Winker goes back-to-back with Suarez in 6th

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Dickey joined Max Scherzer (July 15) as the only pitchers to record two strikeouts against Votto in a game this season. Both feats came in the first baseman's first two plate appearances.

Video: CIN@ATL: Dickey fans Votto for first strikeout

"[Dickey] definitely deserved a better fate," Braves catcher Flowers said. "He had a pretty good knuckleball going all day."

UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Braves requested a replay review in the eighth inning. Suarez was called safe at first base after beating an attempted pickoff from Flowers. The replay revealed that Suarez was out.

Video: CIN@ATL: Winker ruled out at first after challenge

WHAT'S NEXT
Reds: Robert Stephenson draws the start against Atlanta at SunTrust Park as the series continues Saturday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Stephenson has a 5.28 ERA in three starts this season.

Braves: Julio Teheran will oppose Stephenson in Game 2 of the series. Teheran found a better feel for his slider on Monday, taking a little off of it while completing seven scoreless frames at Coors Field.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Jaylon Thompson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Atlanta and covered the Reds on Friday.