CINCINNATI -- Four pitches into Saturday night's game against the Brewers, Reds starter John Lamb turned to watch a Hernan Perez home run just clear the left-field wall, putting him in an early two-run hole.
It was that kind of night for the Reds' lefty, who went on to allow two more runs in the first and then five in the third without recording an out as the Brewers pummeled the Reds 9-1 at Great American Ball Park, ending a three-game losing streak for Milwaukee. Lamb's night ended after a career-worst-tying two innings and he allowed a career-worst nine runs on nine hits.
"They hit a couple balls really well and a couple balls that they worked through the infield or over second base and they had a bloop hit and another soft hit to right field, but they hit the ball out of the ballpark too and a hard line drive up the middle," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "Those are the biggest challenges for young pitchers. That's going to happen to the best of them. But you have to come back and get back and give your team a chance to come back. The third inning, just the wheels kind of fell off."
Offensively, the Brewers performed from the top to the bottom of the order, with every Brewers starter except Ramon Flores recording a hit. Jonathan Villar finished 3-for-5 with a run scored, while Jonathan Lucroy went 1-for-3 with a two-run homer and a walk.
The nine runs put up by the Brewers were the most they've scored since May 27, when they put up nine in a game against the Reds also started by Lamb. In three starts against the Brewers this season, Lamb has allowed 16 runs over 9 2/3 innings and given up five homers.
Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson held the Reds to six hits and struck out seven over seven scoreless innings for his first victory since May 29 -- which was also against the Reds.
"In your head, you try to play it like it's a 0-0 game," Nelson said. "You can't really let up. At the same time, pound the strike zone. You know you're not going to get beat by one swing."
Joey Votto was a bright spot for the Reds, going 4-for-5 with three singles, a double and a run scored.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Extra life for Lucroy: The Brewers catcher struck out in the first inning and appeared to whiff again in the third, when Reds manager Bryan Price sprung out of the dugout after a two-strike foul tip to argue that Lucroy had actually swung and missed. Slow-motion replays showed that Price had a point, but home-plate umpire Quinn Wolcott stuck with his original call, and Lucroy made the most of it by smacking a two-run home run on Lamb's very next pitch. Three batters later, with the Brewers still rallying their way to a five-run inning, Price renewed his argument with Wolcott and was ejected for the eighth time in his managerial career.
"Going back and looking at it, I actually hit the plate, and that's what he heard and that's what I felt. That's why I didn't walk back to the dugout," Lucroy said. "It was the very tip of my bat. There was actually a black mark on the plate." More >
Lamb-asted: Lamb's didn't necessarily struggle to find the strike zone -- his two walks both came after the Lucroy homer -- but he continually left balls over the plate, resulting in nine Milwaukee hits. The two homers make nine against Lamb over his last seven starts.
"That's my job, going out there, eating more innings than I have, collectively in my stint this year, that's frustrating," Lamb said. "Knowing there's expectations and I'm not meeting them. At least I would expect there's expectations. I'm just hopeful to continue to have the ball every five days and go out there and compete." More >
Loving lefties: The biggest hit of the Brewers' four-run first inning belonged to Perez, who followed Villar's leadoff single with a home run before Milwaukee made its first out. Four of Perez's five home runs this season have come off left-handers. His night was cut short, however, when Perez exited the game in the sixth with a bruised left foot. He fouled a pitch off his foot during an at-bat in the fifth, when Perez was robbed of extra bases by a diving catch from left fielder Adam Duvall.
Sampson saves the day: After Lamb's short outing, reliever Keyvius Sampson was tabbed to eat some innings, and came in with the bases loaded already down 6-0. While he allowed all three inherited runners to score, he escaped the inning without giving up any runs of his own and went on to pitch four innings of relief, allowing three hits and no runs while striking out five. The four innings are the most by any Reds relief pitcher this season and it was Sampson's first outing without allowing an earned run this season.
"Keyvius came in and kept himself out there on the mound for four innings, saved the bullpen," Price said. "His last three innings were really strong and I'm really proud of the way that he handled that situation. Bases loaded, nobody out coming into that situation for a young guy, he scuffled a bit in that first inning with guys on base, but then he came out and gave us three nice innings afterwards and that was a lift."
"Why beat around the bush? He certainly has to pitch better. You want to put these guys in a place where they can go out and pitch and not look over their shoulder, but there's also the element of performance that needs to be there. We're not in an environment where you say, 'OK, anything goes. You don't have to perform. If you perform, great. If you don't perform, no problem.' That's not the environment in which we work." -- Price, on Lamb's future in the rotation
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Including their 11 strikeouts on Saturday, Brewers batters have whiffed a Major League-worst 855 times this season. That's a pace for 1,556 strikeouts, which would break the all-time record set by the 2014 Astros, who fanned 1,535 times.
WHAT'S NEXT Brewers: The Brewers will recall right-hander Zach Davies to start Sunday's 12:10 p.m. CT series finale. Davies was optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs before the All-Star break, but the move had nothing to do with his performance; he's 6-1 with a 3.24 ERA over his last 12 starts. Rather, the Brewers knew Davies wouldn't pitch again until after the break, so they sent him down in order to call-up an extra bat.
Reds: The Reds look to take the series in Sunday afternoon's 1:10 p.m. ET series finale. Dan Straily takes the mound for the Reds looking to extend his streak of quality starts to three. He has, however, posted a 7.67 ERA since throwing two consecutive seven-inning performances at the beginning of June.