By HAL McCOY
Deck McGuire was auditioning for 2018 for the Cincinnati Reds Tuesday night in Milwaukee and if he had been on The Gong Show he would have heard a quick bong.
He was making his first major league start after four scoreless bullpen appearances and was obviously full of adrenaline and a sack full of nerves.
He gave up four runs in the first inning and needed 83 pitches to wobble through only three innings. And although the Reds kept scratching and clawed all nine innings, they weren’t able to overcome the early deficit and lost their seventh straight game, 7-6.
It was 4-0, 4-2, 6-2, 6-3, 6-5, 7-5 and 7-6. And Joey Votto singled with one out in the ninth against Brewers closer Corey Knebel. Phillip Ervin pinch-ran for Votto and stole second, putting the potential tying run on the second base.
But Scooter Gennett struck out on a 3-and-2 pitch and Eugenio Suarez fouled out down the right field line to end it.
It enabled the Brewers to cling by a hair to a possible National League Central championship, five games behind the Chicago Cubs with five to play. What might be easier for the Brewers is the second wild card spot. They are 1 ½ games behind the Colorado Rockies.
And the Reds loss, coupled with Pittsburgh’s big win over Miami, clinched last place for the Reds.
McGuire, obviously overpumped for his major league starting debut, went to 3-and-2 counts on three Brewers hitters in the first inning and all three hit safely.
He was 3-and-2 on leadoff hitter Eric Thames and he doubled. He walked Neil Walker on four pitches. He then struck out the next two.
He went to 3-and-2 on Domingo Santana, one strike from escaping the first inning unscathed. But Santana whacked the next pitch deep over the left field wall for a three-run home run.
Then he went to 3-and-2 on Stephen Vogt and he doubled. Orlando Arcia singled and it was 4-0.
The Reds scored two against 17-game winner Zach Davies in the second when Suarez was hit by a pitch and Scott Schebler pulled his 30th home run, a shot down the right field line.
McGuire, who used up 39 pitches in the first inning, gave up two more in the third, but it wasn’t his fault. With two and two outs, Brett Phillips ground deep into the second base hole. Scotter Gennett fielded it, but threw wide past first base and both runners scored to make it 6-2.
From there, the Reds pecked away. They scored a run in the fifth on Billy Hamilton’s triple and Joey Votto’s sacrifice fly.
They scored two in the seventh after pinch-hitter Patrick Kivlehan and Hamilton both struck out. Zack Cozart launched his 24th home run, Votto walked and Gennett singled. Suarez then blooped a run-scoring single and it was 6-5.
The Brewers scored what proved to be the winning run off Wandy Peralta in the seventh on Vogt’s third double of the night (he came into the game with four on the season), took third on a ground ball and scored on Hernan Perez’s sacrifice fly.
Pinch-hitter Jesse Winker homered on the first pitch he saw in the eighth inning with two outs, cutting the margin to 7-6, but that’s how it ended.
There was a play in the second that turned into a big play later in the game. During the two-run second, with two on and nobody out, Tucker Barnhart singled to shallow center and third base coach Billy Hatcher, a solid citizen all year as third base coach, sent Duvall and he was thrown out at home.
The Reds outhit the Brewers, 11-10, and the Brewers stranded nine and were 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position. But the Reds were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight.