By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — If one listened closely in Great American Ball Park Monday night, they probably could hear Metallica singing their song, ‘All Nightmare Long.’
That’s what it was for the Cincinnati Reds against the Milwaukee Brewers as the Reds frittered away a game they probably should have won, 8-6.
The Reds led, 3-1, after six innings and appeared on their way to sea shells and balloons because a win would move them to within 4 1/2 games of first place in the National League Central.
Instead starter Tyler Mahle opened a crack to start the seventh and David Hernandez turned the crack into a gaping hole. The Brewers scored five runs to firmly grab the reins in this one.
So instead of 4 1/2 games behind the first-place Brewers, the Reds retreated to 6 1/2 back, firmly mired in last place, The Reds trail fourth-place Pittsburgh by 1 1/2 games after the Pirates dismantled the Chicago Cubs Monday, 18-5.
Two home runs by Eugenio Suarez highlighted the night for the Reds as he drove in four of the six runs. And the two homers gave him three in two games after the 457-footer he plopped on the deck of the fake steamboat in center field.
For the Reds it was their 27th loss by two or less runs — 27 of their 44 defeats.
“I try to feel better, try to do better than I have recently to help my team,” said Suarez. “I did my best and today was good for me, and we were so close. Personally it was good for me, but I don’t feel good because we lost. For me more important is to win games, no matter what I do.”
Suarez, wearing a ‘Fly Emirates’ shirt after the game, hit a home run Sunday that would cost $499 on an Emirates flight. He did break into a slight smile when asked about it.
“That was really good for me, by far my longest home run,” he said. And that one helped the Reds beat the Cubs, 8-6. “Somebody told me it was one of the longest in Great American Ball Park and that made me feel so good. Hitting that homer made me feel happy and we won.”
Suarez seems to have emerged from a long nap at the plate that saw his average and production dip disappointingly.
Now it seems he is back.
“I just try to do my thing that I always do, just relax at the plate and not think too much,” he said. “I try to see the ball come to me longer and react with my swing,” he said. “I know if I don’t see the ball all the way I don’t have a chance to hit it.”
Starting pitchers Tyler Mahle and Adrian Houser matched zeros for four innings to see which would flinch first. Mahle flinched.
Rookie second basemam Kenton Hiura, the Brewers No. 1 draft pick in 2017, led the fifth inning by driving his sixth home run into the left field seats to give the Brewers a 1-0 lead.
There was an absolute oddity in the bottom of the fifth inning, something rarely done. Houser retired the side on three pitches — ground ball to first by Jose Iglesias, fly to right by Curt Casali and ground ball to short by Tyler Mahle.
As one press box observer said, “I do believe that’s the minimum allowed by law.”
The next inning, though, Jesse Winker made Houser throw more than one pitch. He worked the count to 2-and-1 and bashed the next pitch into the left field seats to tie the game, 1-1.
Patience continued to pay off for the Reds. After Winker’s home run, Joey Votto walked on a full count and Eugenio Suarez worked the count to 2-and-2 before rocketing his 18th home run into the left field seats for a 3-1 Reds lead.
Mahle and the Reds couldn’t stand prosperity and watched in disappoinment as the Brewers scored five runs in the seventh to take a 6-3 lead.
It began with a home run to right field by Lorenzo Cain. Eric Thames beat an infield hit to short and Mahle was finished, even though he had given up just two runs and three hits at the time.
David Hernandez replaced him and it was mayhem. Keston Hiura singled and Ben Gamel doubled to tie it, 3-3. With one out, Hernandez walked No. 9 hitter Tyler Saladino, hitting .000, filling the bases.
Then he also walked Yasmani Grandal, forcing in the go-ahead run, gave up a run-scoring single to Christian Yelich and a sacrifice fly to Mike Moustakas to make it 6-3.
“Probably my worst this year,” said a distraught Hernandez. “It just hasn’t been clicking the last couple of days. I’m a little off with my delivery.
“It is unfortunate because Tyler put us in a great spot to win,” Hernandez added. “We just took the lead and that’s what makes that performance so bad. Games like this you wish you could hold the lead. These are big games against division rivals, right before the All-Star break. We need to finish strong.
“It is mechanical and mental and I’m trying to fix it on the fly,” he said. “It is never good when you are out there and you feel like you are doing something different on every pitch.”
The Reds bats quickly went into deep freeze. Corbin Burnes struck out the side in the seventh.
But they re-heated in the eighth against All-Star Josh Hader. Joey Votto singled and Eugenio Suarez struck again, his second home run in consecutive at bats, 19th of the season, and the Reds were within one, 6-5.
It didn’t take long for pitcher Robert Stephenson to help turn it back into a three-run game. He walked Yasmani Grandal with one out in the ninth and was ahead of Christian Yelich 0-and-2. The next pitch cleared the wall in the left field corner, Yelich’s 30th home run, 66th RBI, and an 8-5 Brewers lead.