By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — When Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun sees red, as in the Cincinnati Reds, he sees red like a bull.
Braun came to Great American Ball Park Thursday night with the most home runs by an opposing players against the Reds over the last 10 years, 35 of them.
And he owned the second most home runs hit by an opposing player in GABP with 20.
Now he has 36 and 21 after his two-run blast into the left field seats in the third inning helped the Brewers to a 5-1 victory, ending the Reds four-game winning streak.
BRAUN’S BLAST CAME OFF Bronson Arroyo after he nearly cleared the center field wall in the first inning, a ball Billy Hamilton ran down.
Braun learned in the first inning that any ball hit to center field that doesn’t land in the Ohio River is chased down by Hamilton. So he made sure he pulled the one he hit in the third inning to straightaway left field.
AND SO FAR, THE ARROYO REDUX is not working. He has lost both starts this year in his first major league pitching in 2 1/2 years. On Thursday he pitched six innings and gave up five runs and seven hits, four of the hits in the third inning when the Brewers scored four times.
“You have to stay out of the big inning, but so far I am missing the velo (velocity) and missing some crispness on some of my pitches,” said Arroyo. “I’m competing and throwing strikes but I am having a harder time putting guys away. Hopefully that’ll come with a little more strength, but there is no guarantee of that.
“I run out there and give it everything I have and hopefully it gets tighter and crisper so I can put guys away in those at bats like Braun after you’ve given up a couple of hits and you have to shut down the inning,” he added. “If you give up four in an inning like I have the first two times it is going to be tough to compete.”
AFTER BILLY HAMILTON LED the bottom of the first with a single, stole second, moved to third on a fly to right and scored on Joey Votto’s sacrifice fly, the Reds took a 1-0 lead into the third.
Arroyo couldn’t protect it. He gave up back-to-back singles to the bottom of the Brewers order — Manny Pina and Orlando Aria — to open the third. After pitcher Jimmy Nelson bunted the runners to third and second, Pina scored on a ground ball, Aria scored on a single by Eric Thames and Thames scored on Braun’s home run.
Thames made it 5-1 in the fifth with a two-out home run to right field as Arroyo struggled to keep the ball inside the walls.
MEANWHILE, AFTER THE FIRST inning the Reds were eating out of Nelson’s right hand during his seven innings — one run, five hits, three of them singles by Zack Cozart. Nelson struck out Adam Duvall three straight times.
Manager Bryan Price heaped praise at Nelson’s feet.
“Nelson was really good, pounding his fastball with good location and you could sense early that he was really confident and comfortable with his fastball,” said Price. “When you feel like that, when you know you can command your fastball you can utilize it in a lot of ways and he did.”
The Reds’ 7-and-2 start, now 7-and-3, hasn’t inflamed the fan base to attend games. Only 13,574 showed up Thursday for the first game of a four-game series against the Brewers.
“I’ve been away from the game for three years and it isn’t easy,” said Arroyo. “It wasn’t easy when I was 25. You go through patches and I can remember plenty of times being 3-and-5 with a 5.00 ERA to start the season here and somehow fighting my way back to a pretty good year. I am hoping my body will respond in that same way but there is just no guarantee. I am in uncharted territory.”