CINCINNATI -- The Brewers may be 16 games under .500, but when Junior Guerra pitches, they look like a different team.
Guerra tossed six impressive innings on Wednesday to propel the Brewers to a 7-0 win over the Reds at Great American Ball Park, helping them to avoid a sweep. The win improves the Brewers' record in Guerra's starts this season to 14-6 and ended a season-high-tying five-game winning streak for the Reds.
The start was the third for Guerra since returning from a month-long stay on the disabled list due to right elbow inflammation. The right-hander allowed three hits and two walks over his six innings, giving him a 2.81 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 121 2/3 innings this season. It was the seventh shutout for the Brewers pitching staff, five of which have been started by Guerra.
"Right now, you're trying to finish healthy and strong," Guerra said. "That way you're considered, and you can come back next year and try for a spot."
Guerra was aided with an early four-run lead, as the Brewers were able to capitalize on Reds starter Tim Adleman's control issues. Adleman walked two to lead off the second, and both came around to score on a bases-loaded single by Brewers catcher Manny Pina. Adleman surrendered two more runs in the third after a two-out walk led to a two-run homer from Scooter Gennett. The right-hander retired the next seven batters to finish with four runs allowed on three hits over five innings.
"Today he didn't have his breaking ball, and he didn't really have real good command of his fastball either, and that, for a starter, is really the death knell when it comes to your chances to have a productive game," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "The catalyst there was the base on balls. The one hard-hit ball that counted was the one that Gennett hit out, but it was two outs, nobody on, a walk to [Chris] Carter and then a two-run homer to Gennett on an 0-2 strike curveball. That wasn't good."
The Brewers added some insurance late with an upper-deck three-run homer from Domingo Santana in the eighth. Brewers hitters worked six walks in the game, and five of those runners scored.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED In defense of Guerra: After irking manager Craig Counsell with what he called "unacceptable" defense in the first two games of the series, the Brewers were sharp behind Guerra from the very first pitch. Center fielder Keon Broxton covered 73 feet in 4.2 seconds, according to Statcast™, to catch Joey Votto's line drive to left-center field in the first inning. Broxton then ran 102 feet in 5.3 seconds to make a play on Adam Duvall's fly ball to the warning track in right-center. In the fifth, third baseman Jonathan Villar dove to take away an extra-base hit from Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart.
"Keon made two really, really nice plays," Counsell said. "And really, plays to me that show he's improving in that area, as well. We've talked about him offensively, but I was excited about those plays tonight because to me, he's taking a step forward defensively. And that's just as important." More >
Homer for the record books: Santana's eighth-inning home run off Ross Ohlendorf put the Reds' bullpen in infamous territory. It was the 92nd homer allowed by a Reds reliever this season, tying the 1964 Athletics for most by a bullpen in baseball history. It was also the 234th home run allowed by the Reds' pitching staff this season, two short of the club record of 236 set in 2004 and seven short of the all-time record of 241 set by the 1996 Tigers.
"Certainly the home run ball has hurt him in particular," Price said of Ohlendorf, who leads the bullpen with 13 homers allowed. "It's been really a nemesis for our pitching staff, in large part in that first 60-plus percent of our season. It continues to be a nemesis, but in particular with Ross. It's been staying away from the base on balls, which hasn't been quite as prevalent. But the home run ball has. It's been an unfortunate part of his game this year."
Hitter-friendly: If you're looking for an example of Great American Ball Park's favoritism toward hitters who can drive the baseball in the air, see Gennett's homer. According to Statcast™, it left the bat at 92.2 mph with a 34-degree launch angle, and traveled a projected 362 feet. Similar batted balls over the past two years in the Majors have been outs more than 90 percent of the time, but for the Cincinnati native at the stadium he used to attend as a teen, it was home run No. 12, double his total from last season.
LOB city:Jose Peraza tried to get the Reds' offense going with a one-out triple in the third, but a strikeout and a groundout ended the threat. That was the story of the offense, which had its opportunities against Guerra, putting someone on base in every inning except the fifth. However, Guerra was able to strand five Reds, including four in scoring position to keep the Reds off the scoreboard. The Reds finished the night 0-for-7 at the plate with runners in scoring position.
"[Adleman] is not a pushover-type pitcher, so to get a few runs on him early was big," Gennett said. "We put together some good at-bats, worked his pitch count up and were able to get in the bullpen and capitalize later in the game. That's what it takes to win."
"I'm past all that. I've done my best to forget about all that." -- Brewers reliever Taylor Jungmann, asked whether he reflected on his long road back to the big leagues during his 10-pitch appearance in the ninth, his first Major League outing since April
"I felt like I beat myself out there. There are a lot of things you can say about me as a pitcher, but I don't think being erratic and a guy that walks a bunch of people is one of those things. So to go out there and put some runners on base without making them earn it and then to end up in a hole as a result is frustrating." -- Adleman, on his walks leading to trouble on the mound
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
When he entered the game in the sixth inning, Abel De Los Santos became the 31st pitcher the Reds have used this season, setting a franchise record previously held by the 2003 team, which used 30 pitchers. The Rangers hold the Major League record, using 38 different pitchers in 2014.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Peraza hit a fly ball in between center fielder Broxton and shortstop Orlando Arcia in the eighth that caused some defensive problems. Arcia and Broxton collided on the play after the ball hit the ground, enticing Peraza to try to get an extra base on his single. However, left fielder Ryan Braun was near the play and fired the ball to Gennett, who tagged Peraza in time for the out. The Reds challenged the call, but it was confirmed on umpire review.
WHAT'S NEXT Brewers: It's all but inevitable at this point that the Cubs will win the National League Central, but Jimmy Nelson and the Brewers will try to delay the celebration. Chicago's magic number is down to one over the Cardinals, who don't play until after 9 p.m. CT in San Francisco on Thursday. The Brewers-Cubs game at Wrigley Field, with Nelson pitching opposite left-hander Mike Montgomery, starts at 7:05 p.m. CT. If the Brewers win, the Cubs will have to stay late to see what happens out west.
Reds: The Reds have an off-day on Thursday before hosting a four-game series against Pittsburgh, the second time the two teams have matched up in the last week. Rookie right-hander Robert Stephenson will get the ball in Friday's 7:10 p.m. ET opener, looking to improve upon his last outing, which saw him give up a season-high four earned runs in a season-short three innings pitched against the Pirates. Opposite Stephenson is Ryan Vogelsong, who gave up six runs in four innings to the Reds on Sunday.