Gennett homer helps Reds pull away from Brewers
CINCINNATI — For the second straight night, the Milwaukee Brewers missed an opportunity to gain ground on the first-place Chicago Cubs in the National League Central.
Former Brewer Scooter Gennett hit a three-run homer and rookie right-hander Robert Stephenson allowed one run through six innings, lifting the Cincinnati Reds to a 9-3 victory over Milwaukee on Tuesday at Great American Ball Park.
Gennett’s homer was part of a five-run seventh inning as the Reds broke open a 2-1 game. He went 2-for-4 with a double, homer and three RBIs.
“It was a frustrating night for sure,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “Too much went wrong for us tonight.”
Milwaukee (72-67) failed to take advantage of the Cubs losing at Pittsburgh and remained 3 1/2 games behind them in the division standings.
Travis Shaw hit a two-run homer, his 28th home run of the season, for the Brewers, who left nine runners on base and went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
Cincinnati (60-79) has won the first two games of this series after losing nine of the first 13 games played this season against Milwaukee.
“We’re still playing to win,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “We’re not conceding anything.”
Meanwhile, the Reds’ young pitching has begun to turn a corner.
Stephenson (4-4) turned in another strong outing, allowing four hits with five walks and seven strikeouts. Reds starters have posted a 2.82 ERA in the past 12 games.
“We’ve been going out there and giving the team a chance to win,” Stephenson said. “It’s positive energy for everybody. We want to best each other.”
Raisel Iglesias pitched two scoreless innings for his 25th save after entering the game in the eighth with the tying run on deck. Iglesias leads the majors with 10 saves of more than one inning.
Brewers starter Zach Davies, who came in with a 2.13 ERA in 14 road starts, was charged with one earned run in 5 2/3 innings. Davies (16-8) left trailing 2-0.
“It’s one of those days,” Davies said. “It’s coming down to crunch time, but we’re going to figure it out. I don’t think the team has clicked on all cylinders in every aspect of our lineup and pitching staff. So now’s as good a time as any.”
Stephenson’s deep drive to center in the third inning went in and out of Jonathan Villar’s glove for an error, allowing the right-hander to reach second base.
Zack Cozart followed with a double to drive him home and put the Reds ahead 1-0.
The Brewers loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth, but Stephenson struck out Domingo Santana, Stephen Vogt and Villar in succession to end the inning.
“That’s the difference (with Stephenson) between early in the year and now,” Price said. “Robert made some really good pitches in some big situations.”
Cincinnati staged a two-out rally in the sixth when Gennett doubled and scored on Eugenio Suarez’s single to make it 2-0.
Milwaukee fought back in the seventh with consecutive doubles by Santana and Vogt to cut the Reds’ lead to 2-1 and end Stephenson’s night.
The Brewers loaded the bases again with two outs in the seventh, but Asher Wojciechowski struck out Neil Walker to end the threat.
“We had the bases loaded in the fourth with nobody out and we got nothing,” Counsell said. “In the seventh with some good at-bats, we were only able to push across one run.”
The Reds added two runs in the seventh against Jacob Barnes on a bases-loaded wild pitch and a sacrifice fly by Adam Duvall to make it 4-1.
Gennett’s three-run blast off Wei-Chung Wang handed Cincinnati a six-run advantage. Barnes was charged with four earned runs and uncorked two wild pitches.
The nightmarish seventh inning occurred not long after the Cubs’ loss in Pittsburgh went final.
“It’s going to be tough, regardless of who we play, to lose two straight,” Davies said. “I don’t think it matters who it is right now. You find a team when they’re hot, it doesn’t matter what their record says.”
NOTES: Reds recalled RHP Rookie Davis, LHP Amir Garrett, LHP Cody Reed and RHP Jackson Stephens from Triple-A Louisville on Tuesday. ... Brewers OF Quintin Berry had his contract selected from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Tuesday, and RHP Aaron Brooks was designated for assignment. ... Reds RHP Sal Romano’s next start was pushed back a couple days because of a cut on his right index finger. ... Milwaukee is one win shy of its total for all of last season (73).