By HAL McCOY
If there is one team the Cincinnati Reds should be able to compete with in the National League Central it is the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Brewers are in the same ship as the Reds, one with a lot of holes and taking in water. They, too, are in a rebuilding process.
Like the Reds, they are reshaping their roster while keeping a couple of their stars. The Brewers are keeping outfielder Ryan Braun and are talking about moving catcher Jonathan Lucroy. The Reds are keeping Joey Votto and talking about moving Jay Bruce.
It is almost a mirror image.
EXCEPT FOR FRIDAY night in Milwaukee’s Miller Park. The Brewers put it to the lifeless and listless Reds, 9-5, Cincinnati’s 11th straight defeat.
The Brewers are next–last in the NL Central, but by punishing the Reds Friday they are seven games ahead of the last place Reds. And the 15-33 Reds are 18 ½ games behind division-leading Chicago.
What made this one even more painful is that the Reds scored three runs in the top of the first before the Brewers took their first swings, all three runs coming on Adam Duvall’s 10th home run.
That wasn’t enough for Reds starter John Lamb. He lasted only 3 2/3 innings and gave up six runs, seven hits and three walks. Two of those seven hits were home runs.
THE REDS HAVE LOST all four of Lamb’s starts and in his last 13 2/3 innings he has given up 16 earned runs.
After being staked to that 3-0 top-of-the first lead, Lamb promptly walk Milwaukee leadoff hitter Jonathan Villar and he eventually scored on a sacrifice fly. Johnathan Lucroy homered with two outs in the third and it was 3-2.
It turned to tatters in the fourth when Aaron Hill led the fourth with a hme run to tie it, 3-3, Keon Broxto doubled and scored on Villar’s double. Villar scored on a single by Hernan Perez’s single to push it to 5-3.
AFTER GIVING UP three in the first, Milwaukee starter Zach Davies, who entered the game with a 1-and-3 record, pitched three straight 1-2-3 innings.
The spell was broken when Billy Hamilton and Ramon Cabrera hit back-to-back singles to open the fifth. But with no outs and two on the Reds got only one run on pinch-hitter Tyler Holt’s sacrifice fly.
The rally was snuffed when slow-footed catcher Cabrera broke for second on a hit-and-run but Zack Cozart swung and missed and Cabrera was out at second.
Dayan Diaz was pitching for the Reds in the fifth and once again Aaron Hill led the inning with a home run. He has six home runs this year, five against the Reds, including three in one game earlier this season in Cincinnati. That pushed Milwaukee’s lead to 7-4.
Joey Votto cut it to a two-run deficit in the sixth by leading the inning with a home run. Then the Brewers put it out of reach with two runs in the bottom of the seventh against J.C. Ramirez.
And just as they have done in their past four games, the Reds went quietly in the late stages of the game — 10 straight retired.
On Monday in Los Angeles, Clayton Kershaw retired the final 17. On Tuesday 15 of the last 16 made outs. And on Wednesday in LA the last 10 Reds went down silently, just as the last 10 were fruitless Friday.
The Brewers muscled 14 hits against the Reds. Villar was 3 for 4 with two runs and two RBI. Perez had two hits with a run and two RBI. Lucroy was 2 for 4 with a run and three RBI. Hill was 3 for 4 with two runs and two RBI. Ramon Flores was 2 for 5 with a run and he came into the game batting .040.
Duvall, with the first-inning home run and a single was the only Cincinnatian with more than one hit. The Reds had only seven and Cozart went 0 for 4 and saw his average dip below .300 for the first time this year (.297). And the Reds now have nobody hitting over .300.