By HAL McCOY
It was not confirmed, but it was suspected that a bonfire spotted in downtown Cincinnati Monday was the Cincinnati Reds burning their road uniforms after a 1-and-6 trip to Milwaukee and Chicago.
And they threw their bats into the conflagration, too.
Then they slipped into their traditional home white uniforms, unpacked some new bats, and went to work on the Milwaukee Brewers Tuesday night in Great American Ball Park.
And it worked. The Reds scored six runs on eight hits in the first two innings against Milwaukee starter Junior Guerra to pave the way to a breath-holding 9-7 victory, ending a five-game losing streak.
Of course, though, with the Reds the victory wasn’t without drama. After the 6-0 start, the Reds led, 7-2, entering the seventh inning.
The Brewers exploded for four runs, including a three-run home run by Christian Yelich off Cincinnati relief pitcher Jared Hughes, Yelich’s second home run of the game and suddenly the Reds led by the scantiest of margins, 7-6.
Home runs by the Brewers in Great American Ball Park are a fact of life. They have hit home runs at GABP in 20 straight games, 43 total home runs.
The Reds, though, pushed back in front by three in the bottom of the seventh with Scooter Gennett once again sticking a stiletto into the backs of his former Milwaukee teammates.
Mason Williams and Jose Peraza both singles, Peraza’s fourth hit of the night. Gennett pulled a two-run triple down the right field line and the Reds led, 9-6.
The top four in the Reds’ batting order was lethal on this night — 11 hits, three walks, eight runs and four RBI.
Billy Hamilton led both the first and the second innings with singles. Peraza had four hits and scored four times. Gennett had three hits, two runs and two RBI. Eugenio Suarez had two hits and two walks.
Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani held the Brewers to two runs over six innings, one of them a 432-foot home run that crashed halfway up the batter’s eye in dead center.
When he gave up a single to Mike Moustakas and a double to Hernan Perez in the seventh for a run that made it 7-3, manager Jim Riggleman brought in Jared Hughes.
He walked Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich ripped his second home run of the night and it was 7-6.
So DeSclafani’s line was 62/3 innings, four runs, seven hits one walk and six strikeouts. He was credited with the win and is 7-and-4, the only Reds starting pitcher with a winning record.
After Gennett’s two-run triple in the seventh upped the Reds lead to 9-6, the Reds and closer Raisel Iglesias tempted fate in the ninth and got away with it.
With one out, Hernan Perez singled and Lorenzeo Cain doubled. That brought up Yelich and if he hit a third home run the game would be tied.
He grounded to second, plating a run to make it 9-7. Jesus Aguilar represented the tying run at the plate with two outs. Aguilar worked the count to 3-and-2, fouled off a pitch, then Iglesias struck him out to end it.
The Reds scored four runs in the first inning with the first four hitters collecting base hits. Billy Hamilton singled and Peraza homered.
Gennett singled and Suarez doubled before Guerra got his first out, striking out Scott Schebler.
But Phillip Ervin walked, Tucker Barnhart singled for a run and a wild pitch made it 4-0.
Hamilton led the second with a single but was caught in a rundown between first and second. No matter. The Reds still scored twice. Peraza singled, Gennett singled and Suarez walked to fill the bases. Scott Schebler walked to force in a run and Ervin drove in a run with a a fielder’s choice grounder to make it 6-0.
Joey Votto, eligible to come off the disabled list Sunday, once again was not in the Reds lineup.
The Reds also shaped up a five-man pitching rotation: Matt Harvey (Wednesday) and Cody Reed (Thursday) to finish the three-game homestand against Milwaukee, then for a three-game series beginning Friday at St. Louis it will be Homer Bailey, Luis Castillo and Anthony DeSclafani.
Robert Stephenson and Sal Romano have been relegated to the bullpen.