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Brewers scuff up Sonny Gray in 4-2 victory over Reds, magic number for postseason down to one

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There is a good chance that we’ll get to see the first back-to-back playoff berths for this franchise since 1981-82.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Cincinnati Reds David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Box Score

A revitalized Sonny Gray got the start for the Cincinnati Reds in Monday’s series opener against the Milwaukee Brewers, and one of the best pitchers in the National League this season was staked to an early lead. After Gray retired the visitors 1-2-3 to start the game, his offense went to work against Adrian Houser in the bottom of the inning. Joey Votto doubled with one out and then scored on a two-out double by Aristedes Aquino to make it 1-0. The next batter, Tucker Barnhart, dumped a single into left field that scored Aquino to make it 2-0.

Fortunately for the Brewers, that would be all the run-scoring that the Queen City Nine would be able to muster. Milwaukee’s offense was able to scuff up Sonny Gray a bit, starting in the second inning with a long solo home run by Ryan Braun, his 21st of the year. Then in the third inning, Orlando Arcia got things started with a leadoff single. Houser bunted him up to second, and then Trent Grisham walked. Yasmani Grandal doubled to score Arcia and knot things up at 2-2. Mike Moustakas then walked, which loaded the bases. That allowed Keston Hiura to deliver a sacrifice fly to push the Brewers ahead, 3-2.

Houser allowed just that pair of runs on three hits with no walks and three punchouts in his 4.0 frames, but he was pinch-hit for at 70 pitches when his spot led off the top of the fifth inning. Brent Suter came on for Houser and continued his run of dominance since returning from Tommy John surgery. The quick-working southpaw twirled 3.0 innings of scoreless relief, including working out of his first real jam of 2019. Votto led off the sixth inning with a single and then Suter issued his first MLB walk to 2019 to Eugenio Suarez. But a groundball double play and a punchout quickly erased that threat, and after working around a couple of singles in the seventh inning, Suter handed the ball off to Drew Pomeranz.

The Brewers wasted a terrific scoring opportunity in the eighth, with a Grandal walk and Moose double putting runners on second and third with one out. Back-to-back whiffs by Hiura and Cory Spangenberg, though, didn’t get the job done. But Milwaukee was able to plate one Badger Mutual Insurance Run in the top of the ninth. Eric Thames walked to start the inning, then Lorenzo Cain singled to put runners on first and second. Arcia dropped down a bunt and reached when Cincy catcher Curt Casali made a throwing error, which allowed Thames to motor home to make it 4-2.

Pomeranz went 1-2-3 with a pair of strikeouts in the eighth and then gave way to Josh Hader. Things started off innocuously for the Crew’s closer as he got the first two outs on a pair of flyouts, but then back-to-back hits by Christian Colon (single) and Jose Peraza (double) put runners on second and third. But Hader struck out Buck Farmer on a perfectly placed slider to secure the victory and record his 36th save of the season.

This win for the Cream City Nine pushes the record to 87-70, and combined with the Cubs’ blowout loss to Pittsburgh, means that Milwaukee’s magic number to clinch a postseason berth is now down to just one. They’ll look for their clinching win on Tuesday evening in Cincinnati, with game two of the series scheduled to begin at 5:40 PM central. It’ll be Jordan “Ace” Lyles to toe the rubber for the visitors, facing off against Tyler Mahle.