EditorsNote: fixes headline
Braun’s blast boosts Brewers past Reds
MILWAUKEE -- In the grand scheme of things, Will Smith got a pretty good trade-off Saturday night.
The Milwaukee left-hander gave up his first home run of the season -- a game-tying solo shot by Billy Hamilton -- but picked up his first victory of the year when Ryan Braun came through with a two-run shot as the Brewers rallied for a 4-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds at Miller Park.
“He’s been so dominant, so incredible for us that you never expect him to give up a hit let alone a home run,” Braun said. “It was nice to be able to pick him up because he’s picked us up more than enough times this year.”
Smith had been practically unhittable so far this season, allowing just three earned runs in 30 2/3 innings.
Charged with protecting a one-run lead, Smith retired pinch-hitter Chris Heisey on a groundout and got Hamilton, the Reds’ center fielder, to look at a called strike before trying to come inside with a fastball.
“Shocked,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “He tried to get a fastball in -- and he got it there from what I understand -- it was a good pitch inside. Hamilton has some pretty good quick-twitch fibers.”
The Brewers wasted little time getting the lead back.
First baseman Mark Reynolds struck out to open the inning and second baseman Scooter Gennett put the go-ahead run on with a double to left-center field -- his second two-base hit of the game.
That brought up Braun, who made some loud outs -- including a fly ball to the wall in center in the sixth -- but was 0-for-3 to that point.
Hoover’s first pitch -- a fastball -- missed high and Braun sent it to right for his 10th home run of the season.
“He’s a good hitter,” Hoover (1-5) said. “I was trying to get ahead down and away. I kind of left it up a little bit. I tip my hat to him. He put a good swing on it.”
Braun came into the game slumping and was 2-for-21 in his last five games.
“I think the last week or two, my swing has probably fluctuated somewhere between terrible and awful,” Braun said. “Even throughout that time period I hit quite a few balls hard but at people, but those two at-bats I think were an encouraging sign.”
Right-hander Francisco Rodriguez posted his 21st save of the season with a scoreless ninth.
Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo didn’t get a decision but was at his best for a second consecutive start, holding the Reds to a run, six hits and two walks while striking out eight in seven innings.
“I’ve felt pretty good the last few starts,” Gallardo said. “I think earlier starts before that it seemed like I would just get out of my rhythm. I was able to make pitches. I fell behind (Brandon) Phillips and left a slider out over the plate. Other than that, my curveball was working pretty good to both sides of the plate. I think that made a big difference.”
Unfortunately for the Brewers, Gallardo’s counterpart, Cincinnati right-hander Mat Latos, was just as sharp in his first appearance of the season.
Latos’ season got off to a late start thanks to surgeries on his elbow and knee and then was further delayed by a bout of forearm tightness during his rehab work.
He made up for lost time Saturday, holding Milwaukee to two hits in six scoreless innings with four strikeouts.
“Emotional, for sure,” Latos said. “First time back, it has been a while. It has been a struggle to get where I was today. It is definitely good. The outcome, the outcome kind of sucks, but that is baseball. They are in first place for a reason. You just got to come back strong tomorrow.”
With Latos out of the game, Milwaukee snapped out of its offense funk in the seventh, tying the score on an RBI groundout by Davis then going ahead on a pinch-RBI single from Rickie Weeks.
NOTES: To make room for Latos on the roster, the Reds placed LHP Sean Marshall on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left shoulder. ... Latos’ return also moved LHP Tony Cingrani from the Cincinnati rotation to the bullpen. ... Milwaukee activated LHP Tom Gorzelanny from the 15-day disabled list and recalled INF/OF Elian Herrera from Triple-A Nashville on Saturday.