Straily leads Reds to win with career-high 8 innings
By Mark Sheldon and Adam McCalvy
CINCINNATI -- The Reds usually wear their red jersey tops only for day games at Great American Ball Park, but that hasn't been the case for when Dan Straily has made his last several home starts. It's been Straily's choice to wear the red, and the way he's been pitching for them, he's earned that sartorial right.
As Cincinnati tied its season-high five-game winning streak with a 6-4 victory over the Brewers, Straily gave up two runs on three hits over a career-high eight innings with one walk and eight strikeouts. He extended his own franchise mark by making his 11th start this season with three or fewer hits allowed, which also tied Cubs ace Jake Arrieta for the Major League lead in 2016.
"I'm the benefactor of that success with great defense and the very-well-put-together scouting reports I receive before each start," Straily said.
The Brewers seemed poised for the better night when Keon Broxton hit a two-out solo homer to left field in the second inning and Jonathan Villar sent a two-out solo shot to left field in the third inning, giving Milwaukee a 2-1 lead. But sloppy defense with two errors to begin the bottom of the third inning did not help starter Matt Garza and opened the door for a four-run Reds rally. Joey Votto's bases-loaded RBI single and a two-run double by Adam Duvall put Cincinnati ahead with another run coming on Brandon Phillips' sacrifice fly to make it a 5-2 game.
"We were sloppy defensively again tonight. Quite frankly, unacceptable," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "I mean, it's time for us to finish the season. I think a lot of good things have happened ... but it's 162 games. The season's not over."
Garza finished with five innings and gave up five runs (one earned) with eight hits, no walks and three strikeouts. His only earned run allowed came on Votto's homer in the bottom of the first inning.
Chris Carter tightened the game against reliever Tony Cingrani in the top of the ninth with a two-run homer to left field on the first pitch of his at-bat. But Cingrani recorded the final two outs, leading the Brewers to their fourth loss in their last five games.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED The hits keep coming: The Reds loaded the bases in the third inning without a hit, but Votto changed that with a RBI single rolled through the right side to make it a 2-2 game. The Reds' first baseman, who gave Cincinnati a 1-0 first-inning lead with his 24th home run -- a two-out shot to right field -- also had a fifth-inning single. He's now batting a season-high tying .318 for the season and .421 in the second half, as he aims to become the first player since Ichiro Suzuki in 2004 to bat .400 in the second half.
Crew miscues: All four Reds runs in the decisive third inning were unearned against Garza because of errors charged to Carter at first base and third baseman Hernan Perez on consecutive plays. Villar charged to make a nice play on Tucker Barnhart's slow roller to start the inning and flipped the ball with his glove to Carter, who bobbled it. Perez then charged Straily's bunt and tried an off-balance throw to second base to get Barnhart but the throw was wild. Garza was charged with one earned run over five innings and lowered the ERA of Brewers starters in the team's last 22 games to 2.86, best in the Majors.
"You just keep pitching. Some days the ball finds gloves, and some days it doesn't," Garza said. "We have a young team. That's kind of where it's at. I've learned from the past, going through it, that you can't really come down on guys. You can't go and harp and wear them out right now. … You have to help them grind it out and keep pushing through."
Straily not afraid: Following a one-out single in the fifth inning, Straily did not allow another hit the rest of the game. He did come close, however, to giving up a game-tying, three-run homer to Carter in the sixth but the ball was caught at the back of the warning track in right field.
"I just want contact. I want to go as long in the game as possible," said Straily, who is 12-8 with a 3.81 ERA this season. "Good things happen when you let the guys hit the baseball. I want contact. I want the weakest contact possible, and I want it right at somebody. I know that's asking for a lot. That's just what I've learned over my years."
Milestones in sight: While making his first career start at second base, Villar hit his 16th home run of the season in the third inning and logged his 54th stolen base in the sixth. With 17 games remaining, he has at least a chance to be the fourth player in Major League history and the first since Rickey Henderson in 1990 with at least 20 homers and 60 steals in a season -- a list that includes two former Reds. Joe Morgan topped those totals for Cincinnati in 1973 and '76, and Eric Davis did it in 1986. Henderson did so three times, in 1985 and '86 for the Yankees and in 1990 for the A's.
"I want 60 stolen bases," said Villar, who was asked which category would mean most. "Because that's my game. My game is not hitting home runs. That's [great], hitting 20 home runs, but that's not my game." More >
"No one wants to come in last place. And as much as expectations may have been lowered through this rebuild, the expectation was to get better from the first half to the second and to be able to maintain that, to get out of the cellar, is a goal." -- Reds manager Bryan Price, on his team moving 1 1/2 games behind the Brewers for fourth place in the NL Central
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Working with his 89-mph fastball, Straily induced only three ground balls over his eight innings: Orlando Arcia's opposite-field single inside of first base in the fifth, Garza's fielder's choice to second base in the same frame, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis' groundout to end the eighth. Everything else was a flyout, a strikeout or a home run.
"You make sure that they are higher than they are further," Price joked. "In Dan's case with the fly balls, you have to somehow find a way to get them off the middle of the barrel, and he does that."
"I think it's something that I've been preaching to these other guys around me: Home runs are going to happen. They just are," Straily said. "You've got to really do your best to not walk people, to not have people on base in front of those home runs. To me, that's the key."
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Schebler was on first base when Ivan De Jesus Jr. bounced a ball in front of second base. Arcia got it and tried a no-look glove flip to second base that forced Villar to pop off the bag as Schebler slid. The original call was out by second-base umpire Tim Timmons, but the Reds challenged and it was quickly overturned.
WHAT'S NEXT Brewers: The Brewers are 13-6 this season behind Junior Guerra, and they'll look to improve that mark when the split-finger specialist takes the mound in Wednesday's 6:10 p.m. CT finale. It will be Guerra's third start off a month-long stint on the disabled list for a right elbow injury, and he should be good for 90-plus pitches.
Reds: The Reds send rookie Tim Adleman to the mound for the 7:10 p.m. ET series finale against the Brewers. Adleman is coming off of a two-run, six-inning outing against the Pirates, his first since Aug. 19 that he did not allow a homer.