ATLANTA — Dusty Baker sensed the opportunity for an early knockout against Atlanta's Mike Minor.
Instead, the Reds and their manager were left to bemoan a missed opportunity in the first inning that helped Minor stick around for seven innings in the Braves' 5-2 win over Homer Bailey and Cincinnati on Saturday.
The Reds didn't score in the first inning after loading the bases with one out.
"It's disheartening to see it happening over and over again," Baker said. "(Minor) wasn't sharp. We had him on the ropes and then we came out with nothing. His pitch count was high, then he settled down in the middle innings, and was extremely tough on us."
Minor (9-4) appeared headed toward a short outing when he threw 51 pitches in the first two innings. He gave up singles to Shin-Soo Choo and Joey Votto and walked Brandon Phillips to load the bases with one out in the first. Minor escaped by striking out Jay Bruce and ending the inning on Todd Frazier's liner to third base.
Minor's two-run double in the fifth gave the Braves a 3-2 lead.
Bailey (5-8) lost his second straight start since throwing his second career no-hitter on July 2. He allowed four runs on 10 hits in six innings.
Bailey said he was hurt by infield singles and groundballs, including Minor's double, that skipped down the line.
"It was just one of those days," Bailey said. "It just seems like I've had a lot of one-of-those days."
Braves All-Star first baseman Freddie Freeman was 0 for 4 with three strikeouts.
"Go figure," Bailey said. "It was more the bottom of their lineup that beat us today."
The Braves, who lost starting outfielders Jason Heyward, B.J. Upton and Justin Upton to injuries in the first two games of the series, found success with their fill-ins. Jose Constanza, recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett, started in left field and hit leadoff with Reed Johnson in center and rookie Joey Terdoslavich in right.
The patchwork outfield combined for seven hits, including three by Constanza.
"I feel bad for them to be hurt," Constanza said through a translator. "It's a bad way to be called up, but I was ready to come up here and help the team win."
Brian McCann and Dan Uggla hit home runs.
The Reds took a 2-0 lead in the second. Zack Cozart tripled, Chris Heisey doubled and Choo hit an RBI single.
Minor then recorded 11 consecutive outs, providing his teammates an opportunity to rally.
Braves reliever Luis Avilan walked Votto and gave up a single to Phillips with two outs in the eighth. Bruce ended the inning with a fly ball.
Craig Kimbrel struck out Frazier, Cozart and pinch-hitter Xavier Paul in the ninth for his 26th save.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said before the game he is confident Heyward can recover from his strained right hamstring by resting through the All-Star break. Gonzalez said the "trickiest" injury is Justin Upton's left calf strain. He said calf injuries can be nagging.
B.J. Upton, who has a right adductor muscle strain, said he felt "a little better" Saturday but couldn't predict if he expects to be ready after the All-Star break.
The Braves plan to delay decisions on possibly placing the Upton brothers on the disabled list until after the break.
NOTES: In two starts since his no-hitter, Bailey is 0-2 with a 6.17 ERA. ... The Reds had been 4-0 in Bailey's first four starts against the Braves, including a 5-4 win on May 7. ... Choo has an 11-game hitting streak. ... The Braves optioned LHP Alex Wood to Triple-A Gwinnett. He is expected to be recalled after the All-Star break. ... The four-game series ends Sunday when Reds rookie LHP Tony Cingrani faces RHP Julio Teheran.