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Unfazed by 1st-place clubs, Reds rally in ATL

Surging Cincinnati has won 12 of its past 15 games
MLB.com @m_sheldon

ATLANTA -- The hottest team in the National League right now isn't one of the contenders, but a club that hit bottom quickly and replaced its manager in April. But not only are the Reds winning a lot lately under interim manager Jim Riggleman, they're beating good teams and showing resolve while doing so.

Using a two-out rally of four straight singles in the top of the seventh inning, Cincinnati scored three runs to come back for a 6-5 victory over Atlanta on Wednesday afternoon at SunTrust Park. It gave the Reds two of three in the series, nine wins in their past 10 games and 12 of 15.

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ATLANTA -- The hottest team in the National League right now isn't one of the contenders, but a club that hit bottom quickly and replaced its manager in April. But not only are the Reds winning a lot lately under interim manager Jim Riggleman, they're beating good teams and showing resolve while doing so.

Using a two-out rally of four straight singles in the top of the seventh inning, Cincinnati scored three runs to come back for a 6-5 victory over Atlanta on Wednesday afternoon at SunTrust Park. It gave the Reds two of three in the series, nine wins in their past 10 games and 12 of 15.

View Full Game Coverage

"We're pitching well. And we're starting to hit as a team, collectively," said left fielder Adam Duvall, who hit the two-run single in the seventh that put Cincinnati ahead.

Five of the Reds' past seven wins have been in come-from-behind fashion.

"Early on, we were coming from behind a lot but not winning," Riggleman said. "We'd get down three or four runs in the first inning, and we'd come back and make a game of it, which is great. It's really nice to come back and actually win the game."

Video: CIN@ATL: Riggleman on bullpen, Votto's ejection

Once easily on pace for more than 100 losses, Cincinnati is 34-46 as the season is one game away from the halfway point. The Reds are 31-31 under Riggleman after going 3-15 before Bryan Price was let go as manager. Since May 8, the team is 26-19.

Management has already stated it would likely not begin the process of naming a permanent manager until after this season, but Riggleman is getting a great chance to build his case on the job. He already told MLB.com on Monday that while he wants the position, he's not wondering about his status and is just savoring the moment.

There's been a lot to enjoy, especially in the past two series as the Reds swept four games at home from a Cubs team that came to town in first place by percentage points in the NL Central. The Braves, who won the series opener on Monday in 11 innings, lead the NL East.

"It says a lot for our club that we can play these first place clubs in the Central and East and can win those series," Riggleman said.

As Cincinnati trailed by a 5-3 score in the seventh against Atlanta reliever Sam Freeman, Eugenio Suarez extended the inning with a single that put runners on first and second base. Scooter Gennett's RBI single to center field scored Scott Schebler. A missed catch by Ender Inciarte on the cutoff throw was ruled an error and moved Gennett to second base. Duvall's two-run single through the right side moved the Reds into the lead.

Video: CIN@ATL: Gennett plates run, goes to second on error

"Two-out hitting, throughout the season, that can be very important. Those are big spots to put some runs on the board," Duvall said.

During the past 15 games, the Reds have scored 90 runs for an average of six runs per game. Meanwhile, the pitching staff has posted a 3.33 ERA, nearly a point-and-a-half lower than the 4.73 ERA for the season that ranks them 13th out of 15 NL clubs.

Cincinnati starter Luis Castillo was taken off the hook after he went from perfection through 3 2/3 innings to very hittable. Following a Freddie Freeman two-out walk on 11 pitches in the fourth for the Braves' first baserunner, five straight singles plated four runs. Castillo was lifted two batters into the fifth inning. He allowed five runs (four earned) over four-plus innings with one walk and four strikeouts.

In a sign of how the starting pitching has improved of late, the last time the Reds didn't get a start of at least five innings was Castillo's 4 2/3 innings vs. the Padres on June 3.

"I feel like I competed," Castillo said via translator Julio Morillo. "After that happened, I tried to make my pitches, but they put good swings on my pitches and they were better than me at the time."

Video: CIN@ATL: Hernandez fans Markakis, strikes out side

Credit to Cincinnati's bullpen for not letting Atlanta extend its lead. Kyle Crockett, Jackson Stephens, David Hernandez, Jared Hughes and Raisel Iglesias combined for five scoreless innings. Iglesias pitched the ninth for his 15th save, while Stephens earned the victory with 1 2/3 innings of relief.

"You know, they have my back," Castillo said. "Even today wasn't my best start. I know we have one of the best bullpens in the league, I trust them. I have plenty of confidence in my team in that situation."

Video: CIN@ATL: Iglesias retires Flaherty to notch 15th save

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Freeman's walk dooms Castillo: Castillo was dominant until the fourth, when he got mired in a long plate appearance vs. the Braves' first baseman. Freeman fouled off three straight 2-2 pitches to stay alive and walked on the 11th pitch. The no-hitter went away right after with Nick Markakis lined a single. Kurt Suzuki, Charlie Culberson and Johan Camargo followed with three straight RBI singles and Dansby Swanson added another single for a fifth straight hit.

Video: CIN@ATL: Camargo gets an RBI on Suzuki's sweet slide

"That was the turning point in the game -- at that point," Reds catcher Curt Casali said. "That was a heck of an at-bat by him. We threw the kitchen sink at him and he [earned the walk]. He had a great at-bat and unfortunately that led to a little bit of a tumble out of control."

SOUND SMART
Casali was acquired in an unheralded trade from the Rays on May 31 to be the backup catcher. In his 11 games with Cincinnati, he's batting .407 (11-for-27), including a 2-for-4 game on Wednesday as Tucker Barnhart received a day off.

VOTTO EJECTED
After a called strike three in the top of the first inning, Reds first baseman Joey Votto was ejected for arguing with home-plate umpire Carlos Torres. It was Votto's eighth career ejection and his first since Sept. 9, 2015, vs. the Pirates.

HE SAID IT
"A lot of aspects of the ballclub was really good today. Our position players with great timely hitting and good defense. Casali did a great job back there on a tough day. The bullpen was outstanding. A lot of innings we asked of them today, and they all stepped up big for us." -- Riggleman

Video: MLB Tonight on Riggleman's success as interim manager

UP NEXT
Votto will be back in the Reds' lineup when they return home to open a four-game series vs. another first-place team in the Brewers on Thursday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Anthony DeSclafani will make his fifth start of the season, and he is coming off of three straight victories. On Saturday in an 11-2 win over the Cubs, DeSclafani gave up two earned runs over 6 1/3 innings and also boosted himself by hitting the first grand slam of his career. Right-hander Junior Guerra will make the start for Milwaukee.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

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