The Milwaukee Brewers fell into an early 4-0 hole and despite their best efforts—and those of the Cincinnati Reds’ pitching staff—the Crew couldn’t quite get back into the game, losing a 7-3 decision Saturday afternoon at Miller Park.
Johnny Hellweg lost for the fourth time in five big league starts, allowing four runs in the first two innings before settling down. Hellweg (1-4) allowed four runs on eight hits over five innings, throwing 84 pitches. He struck out one and the one walk he issued was the fewest in any start in his brief career.
That wasn’t to say Hellweg didn’t still have control issues – he hit three batters, one of which came around to score.
The Reds got rolling quickly when Shin-Soo Choo led off by slashing a double to the opposite field and moved up to third on Brandon Phillips’ sacrifice bunt. Joey Votto cashed in the opportunity with a sacrifice fly to center.
But Cincinnati wasn’t done. Jay Bruce worked a walk, went to third on a single by Ryan Ludwick and scored when Todd Frazier slapped a single to right field.
The Reds added to their lead in the second. With one out, Hellweg plunked his opposite number, Homer Bailey, with a pitch and Choo followed with a long home run to center field, his 21st of the year, to make it 4-0.
The Crew chipped away at the lead in the fourth. Scooter Gennett—batting third for the first time in the majors—singled to right field to lead off the frame and scored when Khris Davis—playing for the first time in eight days after sitting out with a sore left wrist–cracked a long double to the warning track in center field. Carlos Gomez lined a single to center field to score Davis to make it 4-2.
Gomez, who was 5-for-43 with four RBI against the Reds coming into the series, now has six RBI in the two games this weekend. He stole second, his 36th swipe of the year, advanced to third on a fly out by Yuniesky Betancourt and scored on Jeff Bianchi’s sacrifice fly to center.
Hellweg hit two batters in the fifth, but escaped further damage when Frazier—with Bailey at the plate with two outs—took off toward third and was thrown out easily by Martin Maldonado.
Cincinnati added some insurance in the sixth off reliever Michael Blazek, making his second appearance for Milwaukee since being acquired as the player to be named later in the trade that sent John Axford to the St. Louis Cardinals on Aug. 31. Blazek walked Choo with one out and after getting Phillips to fly out, surrendered a mammoth home run to Votto that clanked near the top of the foul pole on the right-field line. The blast was estimated at 470 feet and made it 6-3 Cincinnati.
The Brewers got their first look at speed merchant Billy Hamilton in the eighth. Alfredo Figaro walked Ryan Hanigan to lead off the inning and Cincinnati skipper Dusty Baker called on the speedy rookie, who stole 75 bases at Triple-A Louisville this season and swiped 155 between two levels of the minors in 2012.
Hamilton stole second—his fifth steal in five attempts since being recalled—and later scored on Choo’s sacrifice fly to center.
Milwaukee made it interesting in the eighth.
Davis coaxed a one-out walk from Sam LeCure and Gomez followed with a single to center. After Betancourt was called out on strikes, Bianchi worked a walk to load the bases.
Baker brought in closer Aroldis Chapman with the tying run coming to the plate, just the second time all season the flamethrowing left-hander has been brought in before the ninth inning.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke countered, sending Jonathan Lucroy up to bat for Maldonado. The last time Lucroy faced Chapman, he blasted a two-run, walk-off homer on Aug. 16.
It was a hanging slider that Lucroy hit out last month and Chapman wasn’t about to give him another chance. Instead, it was all fastballs and Lucroy struck out swinging to end the inning.
Chapman wobbled a bit in the ninth, walking Norichika Aoki and Jean Segura, but struck out the side for his 36th save.
Homer Bailey (11-10) worked seven solid innings, allowing three runs on five hits with three strikeouts. But he tied a season high with four walks and the Reds’ pitchers walked eight batters on the day. Bailey has won six straight decisions and hasn’t lost since July 26.
The Brewers will send Yovani Gallardo (11-9) to the mound on Sunday afternoon to try to win the series and the season finale from Cincinnati. The Reds will counter with Bronson Arroyo (13-11). Game time is 1:10 p.m. Central Time and will be televised on Fox Sports Wisconsin.
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