Newcomer Walker helps Brewers top Reds
MILWAUKEE — Neil Walker expects to sleep soundly Sunday night.
After a whirlwind night that began in Philadelphia when he learned he was traded, continued with a car ride back to New York to pack his bags, followed by a early-morning flight to Milwaukee, Walker made a memorable debut with the Brewers by collecting two singles in his first two at-bats in a 7-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds at Miller Park.
“I was excited to get here and I was excited when I talked to (manager Craig Counsell) last night,” Walker said. “He told me I was going to be in the lineup and I was excited about that. Easier in my opinion to get thrown in the fire and see how it goes.”
Walker’s presence provided an extra spark to a Brewers offense that snapped out of a lengthy funk against the Reds, putting up 23 runs in the three-game series, nearly matching the 25 they scored in the eight games leading up to the Reds’ visit.
“We swung the bats well these last three games,” Counsell said. “We had good at-bats.”
Following the formula that worked so well for much of the season, the Brewers jumped on their opponent early, scoring three in the first inning against Sal Romano.
Ryan Braun got things started with an RBI double, then scored on an error by right fielder Jesse Winker. Manny Pina capped the early outburst with an RBI double before Romano got out of it.
“The Brewers are real aggressive on the bases, very effective and efficient running the bases, taking extra bases, stealing bases, bunting, doing all the things that really keep you on your toes defensively and they exploit things,” Reds manager Bryan Price said.
Matt Garza (6-6) kept the Reds off the board through three innings, but a leadoff walk to Joey Votto in the fourth came back to haunt him when Adam Duvall followed with his 27th home run of the year.
Domingo Santana gave the Brewers some breathing room in the fifth, sending a 1-0 offering from Romano over the fence, putting Milwaukee up 7-2.
“That three-run homer to Santana really cost us today,” Romano said. “I’ve just got to be able to get that guy out in that situation.”
The rookie gave way after the fifth inning, having allowed seven runs (six earned), eight hits and a walk while striking out seven.
“I thought there was definitely a lot of good today, a lot of improvement in a lot of different things,” Romano said. “Obviously the stat line doesn’t show that, and a loss for the team. But I’m just taking bits and pieces from every game and continue to get better.”
Garza battled again in the sixth, issuing a leadoff walk to Scooter Gennett. He retired Eugenio Suarez on a weak grounder to first, but Jose Peraza followed with a single. With Tucker Barnhart up, a wild pitch allowed Gennett to score.
Barnhart drove in another run with an RBI single, chasing Garza, but Jeremy Jeffress got Milwaukee out of the inning.
“It was ugly,” said Garza, who gave up four runs, allowed five hits and walked five. “But sometimes ugly wins, and that’s all we’re here to do, is win. It wasn’t my best outing. It wasn’t my cleanest outing.
“The four runs that scored were five walks, so it wasn’t my strongest outing. But, hey, at the end of the day, we won. The whole goal is to win as many ballgames as we can. We won a series for the first time in a while. Just trying to get this thing rolling again.”
Jacob Barnes put up zeroes in the seventh and eighth, and Corey Knebel locked it down in the ninth for his 22nd save.
NOTES: INF Neil Walker arrived in Milwaukee and was in the Brewers’ starting lineup, batting cleanup and playing third base. ... To make room for Walker on the active roster, Milwaukee placed LHP Brent Suter on the disabled list with a mild rotator cuff strain and designated RHP Michael Blazek for assignment, opening space on the 40-man roster. ... Walker started at 3B because Travis Shaw was given a day off after fouling pitches off a foot and knee Wednesday night. Brewers manager Craig Counsell said he expects Shaw to be back Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates. ... Cincinnati placed RHP Austin Brice on the 10-day disabled list with a right lat strain and reinstated RHP Robert Stephenson from the 10-day disabled list. He had been bothered by right shoulder issues.