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Strong start from Jimmy Nelson almost wasted, Brewers hold on for 5-4 win

Jimmy Nelson pitched 7.1 strong innings, but a late meltdown in the bullpen almost wasted it.

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Milwaukee Brewers Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

WP: Jimmy Nelson (5-3) | LP: Brandon Finnegan (1-4) | SV: Blaine Boyer (1)

HR: Jay Bruce (9)

Box Score

The Brewers almost blew it for the second straight day, but this time, they didn't give up the win.

For the third straight day, the Brewers scored in the first inning. Jonathan Villar had a leadoff single, then his risky baserunning got him to third on a foul pop-up. The risk would pay off the next batter, as a sacrifice fly drove him in to give the Brewers a 1-0 lead.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Nelson started out rough today. He allowed two hits in the first inning, but both baserunners were thrown out by Lucroy. Fortune wasn't as kind in the second inning, as a Jay Bruce home run tied the game for the Reds, and then Nelson hit Adam Duvall with a pitch and then back-to-back singles loaded the bases. Tucker Barnhart grounded into a double play, but it drove in a run to give the Reds a 2-1 lead.

It didn't take the Brewers long to regain the lead. With two down in the third inning, a Villar walk paid off when Hernan Perez doubled to tie the game at 2, and then Lucroy drove in Perez with a single to give the Brewers the lead.

The Brewers would build on that lead with a couple more runs. An Alex Presley double and Villar single in the fifth made the lead 4-2. They added on another in the seventh from a Villar walk and Lucroy triple to make it 5-2.

Following his rough start, Nelson settled into a groove starting in the third inning. He faced the minimum in four of his other five full innings. In total, he allowed only one more hit, two walks, and a hit by pitch. He finished the day with 7.1 innings pitched, allowing two runs on six hits, two walks, and five strikeouts.

Tyler Thornburg finished the eighth inning for Nelson and retired both batters he faced. Blaine Boyer came out in the ninth inning to finish up the game for the Brewers since Jeremy Jeffress had pitched four of the last five days. After two quick outs to start the inning, three straight singles (with two advancing on defensive indifference) scored two runs and made the game 5-4. Jordan Pacheco came in as a pinch-hitter, but struck out on three pitches to end the game.

Jonathan Villar had another strong day, going 2-for-2 at the plate with two walks and three runs scored. Jonathan Lucroy also went 2-for-2 with a walk and sacrifice fly, and drove three runs in. He also caught two runners stealing in the first inning.

The Brewers start a new series against the Cardinals tomorrow with a special Memorial Day matinee. Carlos Martinez faces Junior Guerra in the afternoon start. First pitch is at 1:10 pm.