A breakthrough? Absolutely. A turning point? The Cincinnati Reds aren't willing to call it that not yet, anyway.
The Reds piled up three homers and a dozen hits in all Monday night as they beat Atlanta 11-3, ending the Braves' 10-game winning streak with surprising ease.
For the first time in seven games this season, the Reds beat a team that's been a huge psychological hurdle since 1995. The Braves swept them in the NL championship series that year, starting a trend.
"We're not going to run around and do handstands because we beat the Braves," manager Jack McKeon said.
Another win over the Braves might get a different response.
"This was kind of game we like to see," said Denny Neagle (4-5), who beat his former team for the first time in three starts this season. "We moved runners over, made key catches and got the big hits. Now you want to come out and do it again tomorrow."
The Braves and Reds opened their series Monday headed in different directions. The Braves had won 10 in a row their longest streak in seven years and opened a 3 1/2-game lead over New York in the NL East.
The Reds were coming off a 2-5 road trip that left them 1 1/2 games behind Houston in the NL Central.
While the Reds were drubbing the Braves, the Mets pounded the Astros 17-1, tightening both division races by a game.
"Last week was a struggle," McKeon said. "All of the clubs Houston, New York, Atlanta have had bad weeks. Last week was our turn."
The Braves put together their winning streak as their pitchers took turns shutting down opponents. Atlanta batted .235 during the 10-game span, but the pitching staff allowed only 25 earned runs to keep the streak building.
"I certainly didnt want to be standing here as the guy who the streak ended against, but that's the way it goes," said Tom Glavine (11-10), who lost for the first time since July 20.
Glavine's fastball was snaking everywhere but in the strike zone, causing him to fall behind one batter after another. He gave up two-run homers to Jeffrey Hammonds and Sean Casey and needed 99 pitches to get through four innings.
"I don't feel I pitched as badly as the boxscore indicates," Glavine said. "That's part of the frustrating part about it. Sometimes it's easier to say, 'I didn't have anything, I stunk and we lost."'
Neagle gave up five hits over seven innings, including Walt Weiss' first homer since May 15 and Andruw Jones' two-run shot that cut it to 4-3 in the fourth and got the Reds concerned. They'd blown leads of four and five runs while losing their last two games in Montreal.
"This was shaping up a lot like the last couple of games I've had where we got the lead and gave it back," Neagle said.
Instead, the Reds managed to hold on and put a dent in that long run of futility against Atlanta.
"I don't know if it's a hex," said Braves second baseman Bret Boone, who has seen it from both sides. "Sometimes teams have success against other teams for no apparent reason. You can't explain it."
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