Brewers ride early runs to easy win
Fielder and Carlos Gomez(notes) each hit two-run homers in the first and Zack Greinke(notes) breezed through seven sharp innings, leading the Brewers to an 8-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday for a series sweep.
“It’s hard to lose when you pitch and hit,” Fielder said. “It feels better when you do it on the road. It’s not easy to do it on the road. It gives you extra confidence. We know we can win at home.”
Corey Hart(notes) added a solo shot in the sixth as Milwaukee polished off its first sweep of a three-game series at Great American, which opened in 2003. Milwaukee’s last sweep of a three-game series in Cincinnati was Aug. 30-Sept. 1, 2002. Milwaukee outscored Cincinnati 24-5 in the series while limiting the Reds to two hits in each of the last two games.
Manager Ron Roenicke might’ve been a little concerned coming into Cincinnati. Milwaukee had lost six of its last eight games going into the series, and the Brewers had lost 12 of their previous 14 games in Cincinnati.
“Guys still felt good coming in,” Roenicke said. “We’ve had trouble here. They came in determined to get back on track, and I think we did that.”
The NL Central Division-leading Brewers went into the game with a magic number of five for clinching their first division championship in 29 years. Any combination of Milwaukee wins and St. Louis losses adding up to five would give the Brewers their first title since the 1982 team won the American League East. The Cardinals were scheduled to play Sunday night at Philadelphia.
Reds batters had just 13 hits while striking out 33 times and walking six in the series, leaving manager Dusty Baker looking for answers.
“It was a frustrating weekend,” he said. “They beat us up pretty good. We helped them some, but they hit a lot of balls over the wall. They got every kind of hit and everything went their way.”
Greinke allowed just one baserunner—Edgar Renteria(notes), who reached with one out in the fourth on Yuniesky Betancourt’s(notes) error and was caught stealing while Joey Votto(notes) was striking out—before Juan Francisco(notes) lined an opposite-field single to left with two outs in the fifth. Drew Stubbs(notes) walked and Francisco scored on Devin Mesoraco’s(notes) single to left.
Greinke (15-6) allowed just two hits and one run with three walks. He tied his season high with 10 strikeouts.
“I was locating stuff early,” Greinke said. “Sometimes, you can be a little inconsistent in the first inning.”
He appreciated the early support.
“I wanted them to keep it going,” he said. “Seven runs is good if you’re doing your job. If you struggle at all, they can come back and make it a game.”
Matt Maloney(notes) was pressed into service as Cincinnati’s starting pitcher after Dontrelle Willis(notes) developed back spasms. Maloney had planned to start Monday in place of Johnny Cueto(notes), who left his last start with a strained muscle in his upper right back.
The Brewers wasted no time pouncing on the emergency starter. Hart led off the game with a double to right-center. Gomez then hit the first pitch he saw from Maloney 390 feet into the left field seats for his seventh home run of the season and first since July 1.
Milwaukee knocked Maloney out of the game in the second. Hart, Gomez and Braun all singled to load the bases with one out. Fielder grounded to Votto at first, who forced Hart at the plate. Mesoraco’s high return throw glanced off Votto’s glove, allowing Gomez to score with Braun and Fielder moving up. They scored on a single to left by Rickie Weeks(notes), Maloney’s last batter.
Maloney (0-3) gave up seven runs—six earned—on nine hits in 1 2-3 innings. His ERA climbed from 6.88 to 9.16.
“I found out an hour and a half before the game,” he said. “I don’t blame any of the outing on it. My bullpen was good. My stuff was good. I just got my butt kicked, plain and simple. They got some bleeders, sure, but they count as much as a line drive. I just have to turn the page.”
NOTES: Fielder and Braun both extended hitting streaks, Fielder to 11 games (13 for 38, .342) and Braun to eight(15 for 35, 426.). … Milwaukee C Jonathan Lucroy(notes) has one hit in his last 28 at-bats. … Milwaukee outfielder Logan Schafer’s(notes) ninth-inning single was his first major league hit. … Drew Stubbs’ third inning strikeout was his Reds’ record 196th of the season, snapping his tie with Adam Dunn(notes), who struck out 195 times in 2004. Stubbs struck out again in the seventh. … The win was the Brewers’ 38th of the season on the road, surpassing their 2010 total of 37. … LHP Chris Narveson(notes) makes his first start since Sept. 8 when the Brewers open a three-game series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Monday night. Narveson pitched two innings of relief Wednesday against Colorado and retired all six batters, two on strikeouts. … The Reds’ three-game series that starts Monday against Houston wraps up their home schedule. Willis will start if he is healthy. If not, LHP Travis Wood(notes) will start, Baker said.