Braun, Thames back Nelson in win over Reds

Braun, Thames back Nelson in win over Reds

CINCINNATI -- If the Brewers were going to put the brakes on the Reds' hot start on Thursday, there was an excellent chance familiar nemesis Ryan Braun would be involved. It was Braun's two-run home run that capped a four-run third inning, leading the Brewers to a 5-1 win. The now 7-3 Reds saw their winning streak halted at four games.

Facing Reds starter Bronson Arroyo and trailing by a 1-0 score in the third, the Brewers used back-to-back singles and a Jimmy Nelson sacrifice bunt to set up their big frame. Jonathan Villar's groundout to first base plated the tying run, and Eric Thames then added a RBI single to put the Brewers ahead. Up next was Braun, who slugged a 1-0 pitch that carried to left field for a two-run homer. It was Braun's 36th career homer against the Reds and 21st at Great American Ball Park -- his most at any stadium besides Miller Park. Since his 2007 debut, Braun has the most homers vs. Cincinnati in the Majors.

Thames' two-out solo homer in the fifth made it a four-run game. Arroyo was finished after six innings having allowed five earned runs, seven hits and no walks with two strikeouts.

• Price to exercise patience with Arroyo

Thames' solo home run

That was enough room to work with for Nelson, who gave the Brewers seven innings and allowed one earned run and five hits with no walks and five strikeouts. In the bottom of the first, Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton created the game's first run when he singled, stole second base, advanced to third base on a Jose Peraza fly out to right field and scored on Joey Votto's sacrifice fly.

The Brewers entered the game coming off a two-game sweep of the Blue Jays where they also won via solid starting pitching, allowing just three runs in both games combined.

"We have pitched outstanding three days in a row," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "[Nelson] was in control the whole time tonight."

• Tweak in delivery paying dividends for Nelson

Nelson strikes out five

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Remember me? Braun extended the Brewers' lead to 4-1 in the third inning with his loud home run into the left-field seats on a 77-mph changeup from Arroyo. According to Statcast™, the combination of exit velocity (96.4 mph) and launch angle (25 degrees) offers a 10-percent chance of being a home run. It was Braun's fifth career homer against Arroyo, his most against any pitcher.

Billy ball: Not only did Hamilton create a run in the first inning, but he also played some nice defense in the early going. To end the top of the first, he ran a lengthy distance to catch a deep drive off Braun's bat to the wall in left-center field. For the second out in the second inning, Hamilton seemed to lose track of Domingo Santana's shot to right-center field, but he caught up to it and made a leaping catch as he banged into the fence to rob Santana of an extra-base hit. Arroyo showed Hamilton his appreciation from the mound.

"If the ball's going to hang in the air that long, Billy's always got a chance to get it," Arroyo said. "It's amazing. There were probably four balls that went up there today that I thought, 'Man, that's probably going to drop there,' and Billy was like camped underneath it. It's nice to have a guy out there who's covering that much ground."

Hamilton's leaping catch

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
• Braun has made 63 plate appearances against Arroyo. According to the Brewers, he has only faced Adam Wainwright (86) and Jaime Garcia (65) more often.

• With three scoreless innings on Thursday, the Reds' bullpen extended its scoreless streak to 20 1/3 innings and improved its Major League best ERA to 1.13. Last season, Cincinnati's relievers led the Majors in runs allowed and set a single-season record with at least one run allowed in 23 straight games.

UPON FURTHER REVIEW
In the top of the ninth inning, Keon Broxton was called safe on a steal of second base. The Reds challenged the ruling on the field, and upon a replay review, the call was overturned for the first out.

Broxton out after review

WHAT'S NEXT
Brewers: The series continues Friday at 6:10 p.m. CT when left-hander Tommy Milone (0-0, 9-00), who allowed nine hits and four runs over four innings of an 11-6 loss Saturday to the Cubs, will start for Milwaukee.

Reds: Following a three-hit night on Thursday, Zack Cozart will take his eight-game hitting streak into Friday's 7:10 p.m. ET game vs. the Brewers. Scott Feldman will make his third start and is coming off six-plus scoreless innings for an 8-0 win over the Cardinals on Sunday in his last outing.

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Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Andy Call is a contributor to MLB.com based in Cincinnati and covered the Brewers on Thursday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.