Hamilton’s game-winning homer lifts Reds by Brewers
CINCINNATI — Cincinnati Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton prevented a run with his arm in the first inning, then ended the game with his bat in the ninth, handing second-place Milwaukee a tough blow for its playoff push.
Hamilton’s solo home run off Josh Hader with two outs in the bottom of the ninth lifted the Reds to a 5-4 victory over the Brewers in the opener of a three-game series Monday afternoon at Great American Ball Park.
Milwaukee (72-66) rallied from a 4-0 deficit to tie the score in the seventh inning on a solo home run by Ryan Braun and a two-out, three-run blast by Orlando Arcia.
“The wind was knocked out of our sails in the seventh,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “Now, you have two outs (in the ninth), then of all people ... that was kind of an out-of-nowhere shot.”
Hamilton, who had hit just three home runs this season, was batting right-handed against Hader and was aware the left-hander relied heavily on his fastball.
“That’s my comfortable side, the right side,” Hamilton said. “He loves his fastball, and he has a good one. His second pitch was a changeup. The next pitch was a fastball, and I was waiting for it.”
The solo shot to left-center on the 1-1 pitch from Hader (1-3) handed the Reds (59-79) a walk-off win. The speedy Hamilton sprinted around the bases before leaping into a sea of Reds players at home plate.
“Yeah, he’s not known for that,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said of Hamilton. “He put a fastball in the middle of the plate and he put a good swing on it. It happens ... especially in this ballpark. Sometimes, the other guy gets you.”
Milwaukee trailed the first-place Chicago Cubs by 3 1/2 games in the National League Central standings to start the day.
Raisel Iglesias (3-2) pitched a perfect ninth to earn the victory.
Brewers right-hander Chase Anderson returned to the scene of the crime on Monday. The last time he pitched at Great American Ball Park on June 28, Anderson suffered a strained left oblique while batting and missed almost two months.
Anderson allowed four runs, three earned, on seven hits through 5 1/3 innings on Monday.
The Brewers were denied a run in the first inning when Neil Walker was thrown out at home by Hamilton trying to score from third on a fly ball to center.
Hamilton’s throw skipped over the mound and catcher Tucker Barnhart held on to the ball despite colliding with Walker to end the inning.
“Our outfielders are so good, at throwing guys out,” Reds starter Homer Bailey said. “That was really big. (Hamilton) is a highlight reel out there.”
Bailey singled on the ninth pitch of his at-bat against Anderson in the third and later scored from third on a bases-loaded walk to Joey Votto, putting Cincinnati ahead 1-0.
Anderson escaped further damage when Adam Duvall grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Bailey found his groove in the middle innings, retiring 14 straight batters and 16 of 17.
Cincinnati greeted Anderson with three consecutive singles to begin the sixth. Anderson issued his second bases-loaded walk of the game to make the score 2-0.
Barnhart’s double to center on a 3-0 pitch drove home two more runs for a 4-0 advantage.
“A lot of guys will try to do too much with the green light, 3-0,” Price said. “He handled it real well, drove the ball to left-center.”
Bailey had set down 14 straight when Braun launched a solo homer, his 14th of the season.
It was Braun’s 25th home run at Great American Ball Park — most of any opposing player — and the first of three straight hits by Milwaukee to begin the seventh.
With two outs, following a meeting at the mound with pitching coach Mack Jenkins, Michael Lorenzen hung a slider to Arcia, who crushed a three-run homer, his 14th of the season, to tie the score.
That set the stage for Hamilton’s ninth-inning heroics.
“Usually its one of their big guys or our big guys,” Anderson said. “This place, the ball flies. I thought Hader made a good pitch right there. Just one of those days.”
NOTES: As first reported by the Cincinnati Enquirer on Saturday, Reds manager Bryan Price will return in 2018. Price confirmed the reports on Monday. ... RHP Matt Garza will start for Milwaukee on Wednesday. ... Reds OF Jesse Winker was eligible to come off the disabled list Monday but needs a few more days to recover from a left hip flexor. ... Reds CF Billy Hamilton has 12 assists, one behind Reds LF Adam Duvall for the major-league lead among outfielders.