By HAL McCOY
Sal Romano’s School of Hard Knocks pitching education continued Sunday afternoon and it was another C-minus.
Romano dug his Cincinnati Reds teammates a three-run hole in the first inning and they couldn’t recover and lost, 7-4, to the Milwaukee Brewers. It was their fifth loss in six games in Miller Park this year.
When the three-game series began, the Brewers had scored four or fewer runs in 10 straight games, but Cincinnati pitching was the perfect tonic.
THEY SCORED 10 RUNS FRIDAY and lost, 11-10, then won Saturday, 7-4, and Sunday, 7-4.
Romano pitched five innings and gave up seven runs (six earned), eight hits, walked only one and struck out six. But a three-run home run in the fifth by Domingo Santana did him in. At the time, Santana was hitting .175 in August with one home run.
Romano, one of a long gray line of young pitchers trying to secure a spot in next year’s rotation, is not yet making much of a statement for himself. He is 2-and-5 with a 6.05 earned run average.
ROMANO OPENED THE GAME the way manager Bryan Price least wants to see his young pitchers start a game. He walked Jonathan Villar. After a strikeout, Ryan Braun doubled off the top of the left field wall for a run and newly acquired Neil Walker (from the New York Mets) singled Braun home for a 2-0 lead. With two outs, catcher Manny Pina doubled to right field for a 3-0 lead.
The Reds drew within one run in the fourth when Joey Votto walked and Adam Duvall homered off the right field foul pole, his 27th home run.
Votto later walked, the 18th straight game in which he has reached base at least twice, two shy of the 20-game record owned by Barry Bonds.
But Votto’s 17-game hitting streak came to an end. He had one last opportunity in the ninth inning with two outs and Jesse Winker on base. But he flied out to the left field wall, ending his streak and the game.
The Brewers made it 4-2 in the fourth on a triple by Eric Sogard and a suicide squeeze bunt by Hernan Perez.
Villar opened the fifth with a double and Romano hit Eric Thames with a pitch. With one out, though, Santana cleared the center field wall with his 19th home run and a 7-2 lead.
THE REDS SCORED TWO IN the sixth and got rid of Milwaukee starter Matt Garza. Scooter Gennett opened the inning with a walk and Jose Peraza singled Gennett to third. Garza unloaded a wild pitch to score Gennett and Tucker Barnhart then singled for another run, cutting Milwaukee’s lead to 7-4.
And that’s how it ended as the Brewers won two of three in the series after the Reds had won three straight and four of their previous five.
On a bright note, relief pitchers Tim Adleman and Robert Stephenson, both starting pitchers until recently, shut the Brewers down over the final three innings.
Adleman, demoted to the bullpen when Scott Feldman came off the disabled list, pitched one inning and gave up no runs, no hits and struck out two.
Stephenson came off the disabled list Sunday and was an emergency relief pitcher with the bullpen depleted. He’ll go back into the rotation for his next turn after he pitched two scoreless innings Sunday, giving up no runs, no hits, walked one and struck out three.
The Reds move on to Chicago and Monday they’ll begin a four-game series in Wrigley Filed against the Cubs.