The Reds climbed within 6 games of the fourth place Brewers with a 5-4 win tonight at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. A three run sixth inning proved decisive.
The Brewers got off to a hot start in the second half, with 3 of the first 4 hitters getting singles to produce a run when Jonathon Lucroy’s single to right scored Jonathan Villar. Villar had singled to lead off the game and gone to third on a single by Ryan Braun. Then the Brewers made 12 straight outs, striking out 6 times against Anthony DeSclafani.
The Brewers looked like they might get a two run lead in the top of the fourth when Chris Carter went oppo with a deep flyball, but Jay Bruce robbed Chris of his 23rd homer with a fine leaping catch.
Cincinnati tied it up in the bottom of the fourth on a mental error by Will Middlebrooks. The Reds had Billy Hamilton at second and Jay Bruce at first with one out, and Adam Duvall hit a two hopper to third. Midldlebrooks took the bouncer two steps from third but went to second to try for two instead of stepping on third and going to first. Duvall beat Gennett’s relay to first, and Hamilton never stopped around third and scored the tying run easily.
In the 5th, Ramon Flores took a 3-1 fastball up the middle for a single, and Brewers’ pitcher Matt Garza bunted him to second. DeSclafani had Flores dead to rights at second as Flores paused with the bunt in the air, and the Reds paid a price when Villar’s slow bouncer down the firstbase line hit the bag and bounced off of Joey Votto into shallow rightfield, scoring Flores. With two down and Scooter Gennett at the plate, Villar stole second and was promptly thrown out trying to steal third. TOOTBLANS are back.
Gennett then led off the top of the sixth with a no-doubt Scooterball into the rightfield bleachers to give the Brewers a 3-1 lead. Through six, if the Brewers got a hit in an inning, they scored.
3-1 wasn’t enough; Garza had a good start but couldn’t get through the sixth. Hamilton flew to deep center, Votto singled to left with 2 strikes, Bruce walked on a 3-2 pitch, and Duvall doubled off the very top of the leftfield wall, scoring Votto and leaving runners at second and third.
That was enough for Craig Counsell, and he called on Carlos Torres. Torres fanned Brandon Phillips, but walked Eugenio Suarez when the 2-2 and 3-2 pitches, both close, went the Reds way. Light hitting catcher Tucker Barnhart fisted an opposite field double down the leftfield line to score the tying and lead runs.
Milwaukee had two runners on with one down in the top of the seventh on an error and a walk, but pinch-hitter Andy Wilkins grounded slowly to third and Villar fouled out to third.
Brewer relievers continued a troubling recent trend of allowing the opposition to pad leads late. Blaine Boyer was bit by the Hamilton bug when Billy bunted for a hit and reached second on Lucroy’s throwing error. Hamilton stole third easily, but Joey Votto was called out on an inside fastball for the second out of the inning. Boyer hung a curveball to Bruce and he doubled into leftcenter, scoring Hamilton. 5-3 Reds.
Gennett led off the eighth with his second hit, a single to left, but Braun had his third straight infield groundout, Lucroy his third straight strikeout, and Carter fanned for the second time to leave Scooter at second. So ended the scoring if they had a hit streak.
Corey Knebel made a successful return from AAA Colorado Springs with a three-up, three-down eighth, striking out two. A good thing, as he might be needed in pressure situations in the not-to-distant future. If the Brewers get into such situations, anyways.
A ninth inning rally by the Crew fell short. With lefty Tony Singrani in to close things out for the Reds, Jake Elmore pinchhit for Kirk Nieuwenhuis and walked. Middlebrooks blooped a single to right, and pinchhitter Hernan Perez drove in Elmore with a single through the right side. Yadiel Rivera pinchhit for Knebel and sacrifice bunted the runners to second and third. Villar walked to load the bases, and Gennett worked the count to 3-2 before fouling out to the secondbaseman down the rightfield line. The Reds went with righty Ross Ohlendorf to face Braun, and Braun popped out to short on the second pitch he saw to end things.
The Brewers again reached double digits in stirkeouts, fanning 11 times against 4 Reds pitchers. (Actually it was against two Reds pitchers; they didn't strike out in the ninth.)
Tomorrow the Brewers (38-50) send Jimmy Nelson (5-7, 3.62) against John Lamb (1-6, 5.43) for the Reds (33-57) . The game will start at 6:10 Milwaukee time.