By Hal McCoy
There was no late thunder from the Cincinnati Reds Sunday afternoon in Great American Ball Park.
In fact, there was no thunder at all, just a few sprinkles during a 5-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.
Milwaukee starter Adrian Houser, who had zero success in seven previous starts in GABP, used a ground attack to keep Cincinnati’s bats quiet.
Using a sinker that dived like an Olympic diver, Houser gave the Reds the silent treatment by inducing 11 ground balls that gave him 13 outs. Two of the ground balls ended as double plays.
In his previous start, Houser was hammered by the Toronto Blue Jays for six runs and 11 hits in 4 1/3 innings.
The Reds had only seven hits, five singles, a double by rookie Matt McLain and a home run by Jake Fraley in the seventh inning when the Reds trailed, 5-0.
Houser, whose nickname, of course, is Doogy, pitched seven innings for the first time since 2021 when he pitched a complete game against the St. Louis Cardinals. The portly 6-foot-2, 242-pound right-hander, was a No. 2 pick by the Houston Astros in 2011 and is 26-30 for his career
The loss was Cincinnati’s fourth straight, three straight to Milwaukee, shoving the Reds six games behind the division-leading Brewers.
Walks and home runs led to the downfall of Reds starter Ben Lively and the Brewers scored all the runs they needed in the first inning.
LIvely issued four-pitch walks to Christian Yelich and Jon Singleton. With two outs, Andruw Montaserio drove his first major-league home run over the center field wall for a 3-0 Brewers lead. Montaserio was called up from the minors just two weeks ago.
It stayed 3-0 until the fifth when catcher Victor Caratini opened the inning by threatening the Ohio River with a 429-foot home run that landed near the top of the right field sun bleachers.
Number nine hitter Joey Weimer followed Caratini’s home run with a single and Yelich walked. Owen Miller lobbed a run-scoring single to center and it was 5-0.
One of Cincinnati’s strengths before the Milwaukee series was its production with runners in scoring position. Not so much lately. Duriing the three losses to the Brewers they were 5 for 34 with runners poised in scoring position.
They were 1 for 4 Sunday because Houser didn’t give them much opportunity. He retired nine of the first ten Reds, six on ground balls.
The real frustration for the Reds surface in the fourth and fifth innings. They put their first two runners on in the fourtrh on McLain’s double and Jonathan India’s infield hit. Fraley flied to left and Spencer Steer hit into a 5-4-3 double play.
Nick Senzel singled with one out in the fifth and Will Benson hit into a 4-6-3 double play.
From the sixth through the ninth, the Reds had two hits, a two-out single by McLain and Fraley’s home run in the seventh. Milwaukee’s bullpen retired the last six Reds in order.
McLain was the only Reds player with more thanm one hit, a single and a double. Rookie TJ Hopkins made his MLB starting debut, stationed in left field, and was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts.
Reds pitcher Hunter Greene will miss his turn with back stiffnes, so a raw rookie will make his major league debut Monday when the Reds and Brewers finish the four-game series
Class AA and Class AAA hitters call him anything but raw.
He is left-hander Andrew Abbott, the Reds No. 2 draft pick in 2021 out of the University of Virginia. He began the season at Class AA Chattanooga but wasn’t there long.
In three starts, he gave up one earned run in 15 2/3 innings (1.15 ERA) and struck out 36. He was quickly promoted to Class AAA Louisville and continued his dominance — 3-0 in seven starts with a 3.65 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 38 1/3 innings.