By Hal McCoy
America’s Team suddenly is Team Slump.
For the third straight game Saturday night, the Cincinnati Reds were shut out by the Milwaukee Brewers, this time by 3-0 on one infield hit after losing the previous two by 1-0 and 1-0.
With the defeat, the Reds (50-43) abdicated first place to the Brewers (51-42) in the National League Central.
Not even a pre-game Reds Hall of Fame ceremony, a huge rainbow over Great American Ball Park before the game and 39,897 fans, could snap the Reds to attention.
The three shutouts stretched the Reds scoreless streak to 27 straight innnings. After hitting home runs in 22 staight games, the Reds managed seven total hits in those 27 innings, two doubles and five singles.
After striking out 18 times in Friday’s 1-0 lloss, they struck out 12 times Saturday afternoon.
It is, indeed a team slump, a malady rampant from top to bottom. Spencer Steer is 0 for 21, while TJ Friedl, Matt McLain, Elly De La Cruz, Jonathan India and Luke Maile all are in the offensive doldrums.
After a weather delay that pushed the game’s start back an hour and 16 minutes, the Reds were held to one hit, a broken-bat infield single by Jake Fraley in the fourth inning off Brewers starter Freddy Peralta (6-7).
Peralta held the Reds to that one hit while walking two and striking out five. Peralta hadn’t won a game since May and was 0-4 in his previous eight starts.
And that hit came after umpire Brian O’Nora missed a 2-and-2 pitch that Peralta threw right across the plate.
The Brewers used three solo home runs to account for their three runs, two off starter Andrew Abbott and one off relief pitcher Buck Farmer.
Abbott’s first pitch of the game to Milwaukee leadoff hitter Christian Yelich landed in the left field seats and the Brewers had a 1-0 lead before Abbott broke sweat.
William Contreras led the fourth with an opposite field home run into the easily reached right field moon deck to push his team’s lead to 2-0.
Abbott (4-2) left after six innings with a respectable line — two runs, three hits two walks and three strikeouts. But his offense was as silent as an underwater submarine.
Buck Farmer took over in the seventh seventh and his second pitch was desosited into the upper deck in left field by Owen Miller.
After Peralta left, three Millwaukee relief pitchers finished the mop-up. Elvis Peguero issued a two-out walk in the seventh, but retired the other three. Joel Payamps pitched a perfect eighth with two strikeouts
Closer Devin Williams and his devastating change-up, call The Air Bender, finished it with a 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts.
It was his 22nd save and he saved all three shutouts — three innings, no hits, no walk, six strikeouts.