MILWAUKEE -- Shin-Soo Choo and Joey Votto homered and Homer Bailey went seven innings as the Cincinnati Reds beat the Milwaukee Brewers 7-3 Saturday afternoon at Miller Park.
The Reds took advantage of yet another lackluster and erratic start by Brewers prospect Johnny Hellweg.
Fresh off his first major league victory, the young right-hander struggled with his command and allowed eight hits and a walk, hit three batters and gave up Choo's home run while recording one strikeout in five innings.
Hellweg was named the Pacific Coast League's pitcher of the year after going 11-5 with a 3.16 ERA with Triple-A Nashville but has been knocked around regularly with Milwaukee, going 1-4 with an 8.72 ERA in six appearances (five starts).
He got into trouble early Saturday, allowing a leadoff double to Choo, who moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Brandon Phillips and scored on a sacrifice fly by Votto.
Hellweg then walked Jay Bruce before giving up back-to-back base hits to Ryan Ludwck and Todd Frazier, the latter scoring Bruce to make it 2-0.
In the second, Hellweg plunked Bailey with one out and Choo followed with his 21st home run of the year to give the Reds a 4-0 lead.
Milwaukee answered with three runs in the fourth but Votto's two-run, two-out homer off Michael Blazek in the sixth made it a three-run game.
All that offense helped Bailey (11-10) win his career-high sixth consecutive decision despite issuing a season-high four walks. The right-hander allowed three runs on five hits with three strikeouts and is now 6-0 with a 2.58 ERA in his last nine starts.
Aroldis Chapman came on with two outs and the bases loaded in the eighth, then worked a scoreless ninth for his 36th save of the season.
Cincinnati began the day 3 1/2 games behind the Cardinals in the NL Central but was 4 1/2 games ahead of Washington for the second National League wild-card berth. The Nationals host Philadelphia later Saturday evening while the Cardinals play host to Seattle.
NOTES: Khris Davis returned to the Brewers' lineup after missing six games with a sore left wrist while third baseman Aramis Ramirez was held out after being hit in his left wrist by a Mat Latos pitch Friday. ... Reds manager Dusty Baker met with his hitters before the game to discuss their approach after recording 23 strikeouts in the previous four games. Cincinnati began the day tenth in MLB with 1,144 strikeouts while Bruce entered Saturday leading the National League with 174 and Votto was 10th with 130. ... Milwaukee infielder Yuniesky Betancourt's .236 on-base percentage was the lowest in baseball among players with at least 300 plate appearances. ... Reds RHP Johnny Cueto threw another bullpen session Saturday and could return to action this week.