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Reds break out after Schebler ends HR drought

MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- Scott Schebler ended a long Reds home run drought on Monday night, and appeared to be the spark the rest of the lineup needed to get going and finally take a lead. Schebler's two-run homer tied the game in the fifth inning, before a five-run sixth paved the way for a 10-4 victory at Great American Ball Park.

That ended Cincinnati's five-game losing streak and gave interim manager Jim Riggleman his first win since taking over for Bryan Price.

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CINCINNATI -- Scott Schebler ended a long Reds home run drought on Monday night, and appeared to be the spark the rest of the lineup needed to get going and finally take a lead. Schebler's two-run homer tied the game in the fifth inning, before a five-run sixth paved the way for a 10-4 victory at Great American Ball Park.

That ended Cincinnati's five-game losing streak and gave interim manager Jim Riggleman his first win since taking over for Bryan Price.

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"Things really haven't been going our way. We were able to take advantage of pretty much every situation that came up today, which is nice," said Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett, who hit a two-run single in the sixth.

Video: ATL@CIN: Reds put up five in the bottom of the 6th

Could this be the type of offensive day that can loosen things up and get hitters to stop pressing?

"Hopefully, it plays out just like that," Schebler said. "The whole season, it's never felt like we've had momentum. It didn't matter who provided it -- we were great offensively last year. I fully expect us to be like that the rest of the year."

After four innings, Atlanta held a 2-0 lead against Reds starter Sal Romano. An unearned run scored in the third inning after Ender Inciarte's single to left field. Adam Duvall double-clutched before a bad throw to get Dansby Swanson trying to advance to third base. The error allowed the run to score. In the fourth inning, Nick Markakis slugged a 3-2 pitch to left-center field for a solo homer.

In the bottom of the fifth inning against Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz, Billy Hamilton reached on a one-out walk. That set up Schebler, who connected on an 0-2, 97-mph fastball for a two-run home run to center field, tying the game at 2. For Schebler, it was his second homer of the season and his first time clearing the fences since his return from the disabled list on Friday.

"I've faced him in the past and he really enjoys going up in the zone when he gets two strikes on you," Schebler said. "I didn't know he was that quick out of the stretch the first couple of pitches. Then again, Billy was on first, so it makes sense why he was so quick to the plate."

But for the Reds, the deep drive was even more crucial. It was the first time one of their hitters put a ball into the seats since Duvall did it on April 15 vs. the Cardinals. Cincinnati had gone 244 straight plate appearances without a home run. More production would soon follow.

"Offensively, we'd get guys on base and we've struggled to get them in," Schebler said. "Just for anybody to come through, get that monkey off your back and then you can go from there. That's all I was trying to do, just drive a ball."

With the bases loaded and no outs in the sixth, pinch-hitter Jesse Winker lined an RBI single to left field off reliever Peter Moylan to give the Reds their first lead in exactly a week. They hadn't led a game for 50 innings, going back to their 10-4 win at Milwaukee on April 16. Jose Peraza kept the rally alive with a two-out RBI single before Joey Votto walked with the bases loaded to plate another run. Gennett flared a two-run single to short left field to open a five-run lead.

Video: ATL@CIN: Gennett drives in two with a single to left

One good night doesn't mean sustained success, but the Reds offense can seem to go only up from here. While batting .224 as a team, the Reds are last in the Majors with 12 home runs this season. Entering the night, according to Statcast™, they were last in MLB in slugging vs. fastballs (four-seamers/two-seamers/sinkers) at .322 and last in MLB in slugging vs. breaking balls (curveballs or sliders) at .200. According to expected metrics, which take into account quality of contact in addition to actual strikeouts and walks, Cincinnati is 18th in MLB in xBA, 26th in xSLG and 21st in xwOBA.

Those collective struggles can't follow Reds hitters into the batter's box when they need to produce.

"The thing is, you don't want to go up to the plate feeling like you have to create or really get this job done, instead of just letting it happen," Gennett said. "It's easy to say that, but hard to do it. Scheb stepping up there and getting that homer got us started, got the energy going. I think we definitely feed off of that. But we need to be there in the first inning, have that energy and have that positive vibe going on. We got a taste of it today and we'll run with it."

Video: ATL@CIN: Reds talk about pitching, hitting in win

Romano earned his first win of 2018, allowing two runs (one earned) in six innings, with four hits, one walk and a season-high five strikeouts. Raisel Iglesias completed a four-out save, with Schebler's RBI single and Duvall's two-run double in the bottom of the eighth adding cushion.

Video: ATL@CIN: Iglesias retires Flaherty to earn the save

More good news came following the game, which could mean more offensive help soon: the Reds said that third baseman Eugenio Suarez would begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Louisville on Tuesday. Suarez has been on the DL since April 9 with a fractured right thumb.

"We've been having a hard time. I was really proud of the guys," Riggleman said. "We were down again after losing a lot of ballgames. Then we got it going. Scheb got a big hit for us. We had a lot of great at-bats tonight. We took a lot of base-on-balls that extended some rallies. Some key hits and that's kind of what we've been looking for."

Video: ATL@CIN: Duvall doubles down the line and plates two

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
A pinch-hitter for the pinch-hitter: After left-handed reliever Sam Freeman walked Cliff Pennington on four pitches to load the bases with no outs in the Reds' sixth inning, Phil Gosselin was announced to pinch-hit for Romano. Braves manager Brian Snitker called for a sidearm-throwing righty in Moylan and Riggleman countered by sending in Winker to bat for Gosselin. The move worked: Winker went into a 0-2 count before connecting on a 2-2 pitch for the hit and go-ahead run.

Video: ATL@CIN: Winker gives Reds the lead with a single

"You don't know how many chances you're going to get," Riggleman said. "I did not like doing that, that early. Doing it that early years ago would not have been a big deal, because you'd have six extra men on the bench. Now, sometimes you have four. Having five guys on the bench allowed us to make a move in the sixth inning that maybe we wouldn't make if we only had four men on the bench."

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
In the top of the sixth inning, on an 0-2 pitch, leadoff batter Ozzie Albies hit a sharp one-hop comebacker to the mound. Romano reacted with a barehanded stop and after being knocked a little off-balance, was able to take a few steps towards first base and notch the out with an underhanded toss to Votto. Riggleman and trainer Tomas Vera emerged to check out Romano's fingers, but he was able to continue.

Video: ATL@CIN: Romano snares comebacker with barehand play

"It just kind of hit me in the right spot. I was able to make a nice play on it," Romano said. "You never know what can happen when a ball is up the middle, especially with a fast runner like Albies. It was just a reaction thing. I was glad I was able to make a play."

HE SAID IT
"My come-back, two-seam pitch to lefties was probably my best pitch tonight. I really located that pitch on the inside corner and it could come back over the plate. It's really a lefty-heavy lineup, a tough lineup for me. My breaking ball isn't as good against lefties sometimes. Being able to have that two-seamer working for me was a big pitch for me." -- Romano, who tied a season high with his six innings of work

Video: ATL@CIN: Romano whiffs five in a two-run outing

UP NEXT
When the series continues at 6:40 p.m. ET on Tuesday, the Reds will turn to rookie Tyler Mahle for his fifth start of the season. Mahle has lost each of his last three starts after winning his 2018 debut with six scoreless innings. Two of his losses have come when Cincinnati was shut out, but he's also given up 12 earned runs over his last 15 innings. Atlanta will counter with veteran right-hander Brandon McCarthy.

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.

Cincinnati Reds, Adam Duvall, Sal Romano, Scott Schebler, Jesse Winker