CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Reds couldn't get Tyler Mahle a win despite his dominant performance. Scooter Gennett made sure they avoided another gut-wrenching loss.
Gennett hit a two-run homer in the 12th inning for a 9-7 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night, salvaging a game that got out of hand when their rookie starter left. Mahle took a no-hitter into the seventh, and it all came apart.
Freddie Freeman homered for Atlanta's first hit, only the third ball the Braves managed to get out of the infield. He homered again as Atlanta scored four times in the ninth for a 7-7 tie.
Gennett pulled it out with his second homer of the game, connecting off left-hander Max Fried (0-1) for his first career game-ending shot.
"You had a bad feeling once Atlanta came back," interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "I give our guys tremendous credit. This is a game of heartbreak sometimes, and it looked like it was going to be one of those nights for us."
Jared Hughes (1-2) escaped a two-on threat in the 10th and got the last eight outs.
"This is very similar to Coors Field," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "I've seen some weird games in this place, just like Coors Field."
Off to their worst start since the Great Depression, the 5-18 Reds rallied for their first set of back-to-back wins since last September — a span of 34 games — and got an encouraging performance from their most promising young starter.
The 23-year-old Mahle fanned a career-high 11 with a sharp slider and a tailing fastball that caught the Braves gawking. Atlanta leads the majors in runs, but managed only two balls beyond the infield through six innings.
Freeman led off the seventh with a homer on the rookie's 90th pitch — Mahle turned his head and muttered a word in frustration as the ball left the bat. Kurt Suzuki hit a two-run homer off Mahle later in the inning.
Mahle drew attention on his way to the majors by throwing a no-hitter in Single-A in 2016 and a perfect game last April 22 at Double-A. He was starting to think another was in reach on Tuesday.
"It's always in the back of your mind a little bit," Mahle said.
Joey Votto and Gennett hit their first homers — back-to-back solo shots in the fifth off Brandon McCarthy — as the Reds' sluggish offense showed signs of coming around. The Reds came into the series with only 11 homers, by far the fewest in the majors. They have four in the first two games.
Votto's teammates ignored him in the dugout after he circled the bases for the first time, a razzing for taking so long to homer. When Gennett followed with his first homer, Votto was on the top step of the dugout to congratulate him.
The Reds sent 10 batters to the plate for five runs during the sixth inning of a 10-4 win on Monday. They sent nine to the plate for three runs in the second inning on Tuesday. The last time they had nine-batter innings in consecutive games was Aug. 12-13, 2016, against Milwaukee.
Fried was called up before the game from Triple-A Gwinnett to restock a depleted bullpen. Right-hander Miguel Socolovich was designated for assignment.
Fried came on in the 12th. He walked Votto and gave up Gennett's homer on a hanging curve.
"It was a two-strike curve that was up," Fried said. "The intent was to get it in the dirt, and I left it up."
REDS MAKE A MOVE, TOO
RH Kevin Shackelford was activated after recovering from a strained right forearm. RH Kevin Quackenbush was designated for assignment.
Umpire C.B. Bucknor was scheduled to work the plate, but was ill. Brian O'Nora took his turn behind the plate, and Chris Segal replaced him on the crew, working second base. Bucknor is expected back on Wednesday.
Braves: Snitker plans to give RH reliever Sam Freeman a couple days off. Freeman has made a team-high 14 appearances and struggled during a 10-4 loss on Monday.
Reds: C Devin Mesoraco was scratched with a stiff neck. ... 3B Eugenio Suarez began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville. He has been sidelined since April 8, when he was hit by Jameson Taillon's pitch and broke his right thumb.
Braves: Matt Wisler (1-0, 1.29 ERA) is 1-1 career against the Reds in two starts and two relief appearances, allowing eight runs in 15 2/3 innings.
Reds: LH Brandon Finnegan (0-2, 11.05 ERA) makes his third start. He opened the season on the DL with a strained left biceps.