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Associated Press
Cincinnati’s Jay Bruce is greeted at the dugout after hitting a two-run home run in the third inning Sunday in Atlanta. Bruce had three hits in the Reds’ win.

Bruce helps Reds enter break with confidence

– Jay Bruce says the Reds have had an impressive first half, even if they are in third place in the NL Central.

A big showing by the Reds’ offense provided the perfect confidence boost before the All-Star break.

Bruce hit a two-run homer in Cincinnati’s four-run third inning; Shin-Soo Choo also homered, and the Reds beat Julio Teheran and the Atlanta Braves 8-4 on Sunday.

Bruce led the Reds with three hits. Brandon Phillips had a two-run double in the ninth, and Choo had two hits and scored three runs as the Reds split the four-game series.

“We’ve had a good first half,” Bruce said. “Obviously, we’re not in first place and that’s where we want to be, but we’ve played well, especially with the injuries we’ve had. To still be right here in the hunt, we’re in good shape right now.

“We’re looking forward to the second half.”

The Reds began the day five games behind St. Louis and Pittsburgh in the division. They gained a game on the Pirates, who lost to the Mets. The Cardinals played the Cubs on Sunday night.

“It makes for a better All-Star break,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “We had a chance to really take three out of four or maybe even sweep them but we’ll take what we got.”

Bruce’s homer was his first since he hit two on June 22. He had gone 18 games without one.

“I really don’t pay attention to that stuff,” he said. “I started off July a little slow but slowly got heated up a little bit. It’s a long month.”

Reds right-hander Logan Ondrusek (3-0) threw two scoreless innings as the second reliever behind Tony Cingrani, who lasted four innings.

Teheran (7-5) gave up five runs, seven hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings. Andrelton Simmons and Dan Uggla hit homers for Atlanta.

Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman was held out because of a jammed left thumb that will prevent him from playing in the All-Star game on Tuesday.

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