By HAL McCOY
The Cincinnati Reds spent more time swatting mosquitoes than they did swatting baseball’s Wednesday night in Miller Park.
They were shut out for the third time in their last five games, 7-0, by the Milwaukee Brewers, scraping together two lonely singles for the entire ugly evening.
And it was the fifth time the Brewers shut out the Reds this season, the first time they’ve been shut out five times in one year by one team since the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates.
With Milwaukee inundated with recent rains and the stadium roof closed, a mosquito infestation occupied the ball park.
There were citronella candles burning in the dugouts and in the bullpens, but the ‘skeeters seemed only to infect the Reds.
The Reds faced left hander Gio Gonzalez, a pitcher than savaged and ravaged the last time they saw him.
That time, though, he was wearing a Washington Nationals uniform and since has been traded to the Brewers and he was an unsolvable mystery to the Reds Wednesday.
He pitched six innings and gave up no runs and two hits, a pair of harmless singles. Even though he retired the last eight Reds he faced, Gonzalez was removed.
It didn’t matter. The Reds couldn’t get a hit off relief pitchers Corey Knebel, Junior Guerra and Freddy Peralta, garnering nothing but two walks over the final three innings.
Meanwhile, it was not happy hour for Reds starter Matt Harvey. He gave up a pair of three-run home runs, one to Jesus Aguilar and one to catcher Manny Pina, whose home run came on the 13th pitch of the at bat.
Harvey pitched 5 1/3 innings and gave up seven runs, seven hits and walked two.
The Brewers took the series two games to one and won 13 of 19 games against the Reds this season.
And so the Reds are finished playing contending teams and their final nine games are against teams similar to them. Bottom feeders.
They move on to Miami for four games against the Marlins, then finish the season at home with two against Kansas City and three against Pittsburgh.
Jesus Aguilar drove in the first four runs, starting with an infield hit behind second base in the first inning that scored Christian Yelich, who had doubled.
Yelich had two hits, the second an infield hit when he topped one between the pitcher’s mound and first base. Pitcher Harvey fielded it, but nobody was covering first base.
Scooter Gennett had a single and two walks in his argument with Yelich for the National League batting title. Yelich is hitting .319 and Gennett is at .317.
Harvey created his own messy bed in the third inning when he walked opposing pitcher Gonzalez to open the inning. Yelich then produced his infield hit and Aguilar unloaded his 33rd home run, deep into the left field seats.
That gave Aguilar 103 RBI, passing Cincinnati’s Eugenio Suarez who was in second place behind Chicago’s Javier Baez. The slump-ridden Suarez has been stuck on 101 RBI for a long time.
Domingo Santana cracked a one-out hit to right center in the sixth that either right fielder Scott Schebler or center fielder Billy Hamilton could have stopped and held Santana to a single. But both stopped and the ball rolled between them for a triple.
Mike Moustakas was walked intentionally so Harvey could face light-hitting catcher Manny Pina. He took offense at the intentional walk to Moustakas and put up a monumental 13-pitch argument with Harvey, an argument he won with emphasis, a three-run home run on Harvey’s 13th pitch for a 7-0 Brewers lead.
The Reds threatened Gonzalez a couple of times early in the game, but couldn’t convert. They had runners on third and first with one out in the second. They tried a suicide squeeze but Tucker Barnhart fouled off the high pitch. Then he struck out and Harvey struck out.
They had runners on second and first with one out in the fourth, but Phillip Ervin popped up and Barnhart flied out.
The Reds were 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position and during recent times on the road they are 2 for 58 (.021) with runners in scoring position and neither one of those two hits drove in a run.