By Hal McCoy
The Milwaukee Mystique continues to flummox the Cincinnati Reds.
For the ninth time in 11 games this season, the Brewers found a way and that way enabled them to score a walk-off 3-2 win Monday night in American Family Field, ending Cincinnati’s five-game winning streak.
It ended in the bottom of the ninth when Christian Yelich rolled a game-ending single to right field against Reds closer Alexis Diaz.
Diaz is a close the door and lock it guy in save situations, but historically is not good in tie games. And he retired nobody in the ninth as the Brewers extended their lead over the Reds to 1 1/2 games in the National League Central.
Diaz was asked to protect a 2-2 tie in the ninth. He walked the first batter, Bruce Perkins, on four pitches. Former Reds teammate Jesse Winker pulled a pinch-hit single to right, putting runners on second and first.
When Yelich came to the plate, the Brewers were an incredible 1 for 15 with runners in scoring position.
They put their leadoff batter on base four times before the ninth inning and scored only once. Four times they had a runner on third with less than two outs and didn’t score. They had runners on base in all nine innings.
Yelich ended the 1 for 15 RISP dilemma with his game-ending single.
Meanwhile, the Reds couldn’t beg borrow or steal a run other than what Elly De La Cruz produced.
De La Cruz led the game with a deep drive to center field that had all the symptoms of a home run. But center fielder and University of Cincinnati product Joey Wiemer vaulted high against the wall and brought it back.
When De La Cruz came to bat his next time, the Brewers scoreboard flashed the message: “De La Cruz ALMOST hit a home run his first at bat.”
The Brewers led at the time, 1-0, in the third. Tyler Stephenson, 3 for 31, led the third with an infield single.
De La Cruz then unleashed his high-octane swing and nearly left the building. The 456-foot home run cleared an SUV perched on a pedestal high in the right-center stands.
And the Reds led, 2-1.
The Brewers scored the first run when Reds starter Graham Ashcraft walked leadoff hitter Yelich on a full count. He stole second and scored on William Contreras’ single.
Ashcraft pitched as if he had a rabbit’s foot in each back pocked and a stack of four-leaf clovers stuffed in his glove.
The first two Brewers reached in the second. They didn’t score.
The first two Brewers reached in the third, but the Reds turned a difficult double play — a strikeout that ended in a rundown and Contreras thrown out at home trying to score. They didn’t score.
They put a runner on third with one out in the fourth. They didn’t score.
They put a runner on in the fifth but the Reds turned another double play. They didn’t score.
It ended in the sixth when the Brewers didn’t put their leadoff man on base. With one out, rookie Sal Frelick, who made his major league debut less than a week ago, pulled a 1-and-2 Ashcraft pitch into the right field seats. His first major league home run tied it, 2-2.
The Reds? After De La Cruz’s third-inning home run, only four runners reaced base over the last six innings and none touched third base.
Their best opportunity surfaced in the sixth when with one out Matt McLain walked and Jake Fraley singled. But Spencer Steer hit into an inning-ending double play.
Milwaukee closer Devin Williams pitched the ninth. In Milwaukee’s first eight wins over the Reds, he had six saves and the Reds had zero hits.
Williams didn’t get a save this time. He got the win with a 1-2-3 ninth, striking out Steer and Joey Votto, who is now 2-for-36.
It was the fifth time the Brewers beat the Reds by one run. Milwaukee is 20-8 in one-run games and the Reds are 21-20. And the Brewers are 21-9 versus the National League Central to Cincinnati’s 12-18, nine of those defeats handed to them by Milwaukee.