By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — The once furnace-hot Cincinnati Reds are suddenly colder than a brewery refrigerator, a brewery owned and operated by the Milwaukee Brewers.
After averaging more than six runs a game over a 15-game span, the Reds swung their bats like popsicle sticks Friday night in Great American Ball Park.
They had three hits and one run through the first eight innings. And one of the hits and the run was furnished by pitcher Michael Lorenzen’s home run as the Reds were routed, 8-2, by the Brewers.
After winning nine of 10, the Reds have lost two straight at home to the Brewers, who have beaten the Reds seven of eight games this year, including four straight in GABP.
The Reds collected three more hits in the ninth inning, one by Joey Votto to break a 0-for-12 skid, and a run-scoring two-out single by Eugenio Suarez.
It really wasn’t that bad. It just looks bad. It was only 3-1 with two outs and nobody on in the ninth inning. The Brewers put together five straight hits off Kyle Crockett and Jackson Stephens, including a home run by Keon Broxton that put the edging on a five-run inning.
It was Broxton’s second home run of the night as he drove in four runs and scored three. Well, for once it wasn’t Eric Thames.
The Brewers have hit at least one home run in their last 17 games in Great American Ball Park, 39 total.
Milwaukee starter Chase Anderson retired the first 10 Reds before Tucker Barnhart singled with one out in the fourth. He was immediately erased on a double play hit by Joey Votto.
The Reds didn’t have another base runner until Lorenzen cracked his one-out home run in the sixth, his second home run in a row. He hit a pinch-hit home run in his previous at bat.
Seriously, isn’t it time to insert Lorenzen into the outfield rotation mix? He played outfield in college at Cal State-Fullerton and ran in from his center field position to close games when a save situation was at hand.
Jim Riggleman was not a happy manager afterwards — not pleased with Sal Romano and not pleased with a botched and bungled rundown play that led to a Brewers run.
Romano gave up two runs and seven hits over five innings and left trailing by only 2-0.
“I don’t draw much positive out of what Sal did tonight,” said Riggleman. “Sal is much better than that. He faced 25 hitters in five innings and that’s not going to cut it. He has thrown better than that lately and tonight he was all over the place. It felt like it was 5-0 when it was only 2-0. That was not a positive outing.”
After Lorenzen’s home run, the Reds trailed by only 2-1 going into the eighth inning. The Brewers had the bases loaded with one out in the eighth. Catcher Tucker Barnhart saw Keon Broxton wander too far off third base and trapped him in a rundown.
Just when it appeared they had Broxton, Barnhart saw Orlando Arcia far off second base and inexplicably threw there. Broxton broke for home and scored to make it 3-1.
“I take full responsibility for that play,” said Riggleman. “I’m the manager of the club and when we do not execute a rundown correctly — and that’s happened to us a couple of times — that’s on the manager to make sure it doesn’t happen. And it did happen. It’s the third time it has happened and we have to clean that up. I’m supposed to make it more clear what they are supposed to do there.”
In addition to stealing that run and hitting two home runs, Broxton made two super-duper catches in center field — and he is only playing because Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich are hurt.
“He is a good player who has been up-and-down the last couple of years,” said Riggleman. “But he is very talented, can do a lot of things — power, run, defense. He did some good things out there.”
So the helium is out of the balloon for the Reds after a seven-game winning streak and two wins in three games in Atlanta.
“We have to play better,” said Riggleman. “Milwaukee’s pitching has stifled us a bit the last couple of days. We just have to turn it back on, although we didn’t pitch good and we were only down 2-1. We just have to crank it up again with the bats.”