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Foltynewicz wins debut
braves crop
Atlanta Braves' Kelly Johnson follows through on a two-run home run in the fifth inning of Friday night's win over the Cincinnati Reds in Atlanta. - photo by Associated Press

ATLANTA — Mike Foltynewicz knew the Atlanta Braves were counting on him to pitch at least five innings and keep the score close.

They just weren't sure how well he could swing the bat. Foltynewicz, who estimated it's been six years since his last official plate appearance, wasn't too certain himself.

"It was probably in high school," the 23-year-old said. "I hadn't gotten any at-bats since."

Foltynewicz won his first career start and drove in two runs with his first career hit to help the Braves beat the Cincinnati Reds 4-3 on Friday night.

Kelly Johnson hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning for a 4-3 lead, Atlanta's first of the game, and the Braves snapped a three-game losing streak. Atlanta also won for the third time in 11 games.

Foltynewicz (1-0), recalled earlier in the day from Triple-A Gwinnett, settled down after a rough, 28-pitch first inning. The right-hander allowed six hits, three walks and three runs — two earned — with two strikeouts in five innings.

"The dream about just pitching in the major leagues and getting a win is pretty incredible," said Foltynewicz, a first-round draft pick for Houston in 2010. "My teammates and I celebrated. It was pretty fun. It's awesome."

Foltynewicz, acquired in the January trade that sent slugger Evan Gattis to Houston, doubled into the gap in left-center off Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani to cut the lead to 3-2 in the fourth.

DeSclafani (2-2) had his worst outing in five starts for the Reds, allowing four hits, four runs and five walks with five strikeouts in five innings. DeSclafani began the game with just six walks allowed in 26 innings and led NL rookies in wins, strikeouts and innings pitched.

"I fell behind a lot of guys and didn't get back in the count," DeSclafani said. "I don't remember the last time I walked five guys. I need to do a better job, for sure. I probably tried to make too good of a pitch instead of just attacking."

The Reds had won three of four.

Foltynewicz struggled to hold runners, giving up five stolen bases, and seemed to be having a tough time with his location in the first two innings. He trailed 2-0 in the first on Brandon Phillips' two-run single, but Foltynewicz escaped further trouble when Marlon Byrd flew out to the left-field wall with runners on second and third.

Foltynewicz said his windup and delivery are still "a work in progress," adding that he's trying to keep his mechanics in line. He knows that he can't afford to keep letting runners steal bases so easily.

"The turn at the top of the rotation — it's just kind of helping me to stay back and don't rush," he said. "But sometimes things get amped up in the game and I rush a little bit."

Phillips was the catalyst as the Reds took a 3-0 lead in the fourth. Returning to the lineup after missing Thursday's game with sickness, Phillips singled, stole second, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on DeSclafani's sacrifice fly.

Atlanta's bullpen pitched well after some recent shaky outings. Cody Martin, Luis Avilan and Jim Johnson combined to allow one hit and three strikeouts in the sixth, seventh and eighth.

Closer Jason Grilli earned his eighth save in nine chances. Grilli faced four batters in the ninth, striking out Marlon Byrd, giving up a single to Brayan Pena, retiring pinch-hitter Devin Mesoraco on fly and Billy Hamilton on a grounder.