By HAL McCOY
A major league manager doesn’t like to dial 911 this early in the season, but Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price should at least have his fingers poised above the keys.
What his batting order is doing right now isn’t working, especially the top two spots of Billy Hamilton and Jose Peraza.
Isn’t a shuffle due?
The Reds lost for the fifth time in six games Tuesday night in Milwaukee, a 9-1 annihilation, the fifth time in six games they’ve been beaten down by the Brewers.
And for the first time this season the Reds are below .500 at 10-and-11.
THE IGNITION SWITCH ISN’T working. Billy Hamilton struck out his first four times and went 0 for 5 Tuesday night and he is hitting .213. Although Peraza had two hits, one was a squibber-dribbler into short right field and the other was an infield hit. He is hitting .226.
Meanwhile, Zack Cozart, batting seventh, continues to mangle every pitch he sees and is hitting .386 with four triples.
There were times in the past that Price put Cozart in the leadoff spot and dropped Hamilton to eighth. Is it time again?
AND THE TEAM AS A whole is back into that nasty habit of leaving runners in scoring position and Tuesday was one of the season’s worst.
—SECOND INNING: They had runners on first and third with two outs and Tucker Barnhart flied to center.
—THIRD INNING: Once again the Reds had runners on first and third with two outs and Adam Duvall flied to center.
—FOURTH INNING: They had runners on second and third with one out but Barnhart was called out on strikes and pitcher Scott Feldman flied to left.
—SIXTH INNING: They had runners on first and second with one out before Barnhart hit into a double play, giving him stranded runners in three at bats.
For once Brewers first baseman Eric Thames did not do major destruction against the Reds. And it wasn’t Ryan Braun.
The Brewers have another Reds tormentor in their lineup. His name is Perez and it isn’t Rosie Perez, who took a short cut in the New York Marathon. It is Hernan Perez and he takes no short cuts against the Reds.
In the second inning Reds pitcher Scott Feldman issued a two-out walk to Manny Pina and Perez pushed a run-scoring triple to the right field corner.
Feldman had two outs in the fourth when he gave up another run-scoring triple to Perez, this time to right center for a 2-0 Brewers lead.
After Perez’s second triple, Feldman intentionally walked Keon Broxton to get to pitcher Zach Davies. Incredibly, he also walked Davies, who was hitting .075, to load the bases and Jonathan Villar rolled a two-run single under Feldman’s glove and into center field to make it 4-0.
ROBERT STEPHENSON REPLACED Feldman in the sixth and Perez greeted him with a home run to make it 5-0.
Against the rest of the league, Perez is 4 for 31 with one RBI. After the sixth inning, Perez is 8 for 13 with 10 RBI in the four games he has played against the Reds.
He has one extra base hit against the Reds of the league and seven against the Reds.
The Perez home run was the beginning of a nightmare for Stephenson, who can’t seem to find his way.
After Perez homered, Keon Broxton hit the top of the center field wall for a double. Right fielder Scott Schebler dropped a routine fly ball. Villar dropped a two-run double down the right field line.
And, oh yes, Eric Thames got into the act. He drilled a home run to right field, his 11th of the year, eight against the Reds and it was 9-0 —five straight hitters reaching base against Stephenson.
He finally got an out before Travis Shaw singled, his third hit of the night. After getting a second out he issued a walk and his night was done — nine batters, five runs, six hits (two homers, two doubles, a single) and a walk).
Barrett Astin, called up Tuesday from Class AAA Louisville, replaced Stephenson and wisely walked Perez on four pitches to load the bases. Then he got the final out and the Reds traipsed off the field down, 9-0, and Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell mercifully removed Perez and Thames from the game.
Adam Duvall prevented the Reds from suffering the ignominy of a shutout by hitting his sixth home run with one out in the eighth inning.