MILWAUKEE -- Was it the meeting that got the Brewers' bats going? Or three games against the pitching-challenged Reds?
Whatever the answer, the Brewers emerged from a players-only chat in the wake of Thursday's listless loss to the Twins to score 23 runs and hit seven home runs while taking two of three games from the Reds, including a 7-4 win on Sunday at sold-out Miller Park.
The win puts Milwaukee two games behind the first-place Cubs in the National League Central and within one game of the second-place Cardinals.
"At the beginning of the season we were all together. Lately, everybody was in [their] own world, so [the meeting] was great," Brewers utility man Hernan Perez said. "It helped us a lot."
Neil Walker had two hits in his Brewers debut, Ryan Braun continued a productive homestand with two doubles and Domingo Santana hit a three-run home run as Milwaukee opened a lead as wide as 7-2 against Cincinnati starter Sal Romano. The rookie right-hander's ERA climbed to 6.05 after surrendering six earned runs, pushing the Reds' staff ERA to 5.26, the highest in the Majors.
"We've scuffled with some guys in their lineup, [Eric] Thames, of course, has been the biggest thorn in our side, but I don't think anyone's swinging the bat better that I've seen recently than Ryan Braun," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He's on the barrel [darn] near every at-bat. He's on time, he's gap-to-gap with power. I imagine he's going to do some damage before we see him again, so he can beat up the rest of the league for a while."
Adam Duvall hit a two-run home run for the Reds, his second in as many games, off Brewers starter Matt Garza, who allowed four runs (three earned) in 5 1/3 innings and was credited with the win.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Squeeze me: In the fourth inning, Perez proved he can execute a suicide squeeze bunt with his eyes closed. With Eric Sogard at third base after a triple and the Brewers clinging to a 3-2 lead, Perez somehow bunted a 95.6-mph fastball from Romano that appeared headed for his face. Sogard was breaking home with the pitch and scored for a 4-2 lead.
"That suicide squeeze, he was pretty lucky he got the ball down and got another run," Romano said. More >
Domingo on Domingo: Nine of Santana's 19 home runs have come on Domingo -- Sunday -- including his two-out, three-run, opposite-field wall-scraper in the fifth inning. After being limited to five home runs in their previous seven games against the Rays and Twins, the Brewers hit seven in three games against the Reds, including a trio of three-run shots.
"You create energy scoring runs. It lets everybody take a deep breath and relax a little bit," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "Domingo's was the big blow. We swung the bats well these last three games."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Reds first baseman Joey Votto saw his career-high-tying 17-game hitting streak come to an end on Sunday when he went 0-for-3. However, Votto walked twice to extend his streak of reaching safely twice to a club-record 18 games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it's the longest streak in the Majors since Barry Bonds reached at least twice in 20 straight games in 2004. The modern record is 21 games, held by Ted Williams in 1948.
Leading off the bottom of the fifth inning, Jonathan Villar hit a ground ball down the left-field line that Duvall fielded and threw to Scooter Gennett covering second base. Gennett applied a tag late on Villar, who popped up from his slide and temporarily came off the base. The Reds challenged that Gennett's tag was applied while Villar was off the base, but the call stood after a review.
WHAT'S NEXT Reds: The Reds' road trip moves down I-94 to Chicago for a four-game series vs. the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Right-hander Asher Wojciechowski will start Monday's 8:05 p.m ET opener for Cincinnati, having won both of his starts since returning to the rotation.
Brewers: The Brewers are off Monday before starting a two-game set with the Pirates at Miller Park. Right-hander Zach Davies will take the mound opposite the Pirates' Ivan Nova at 6:40 p.m. CT on Tuesday. Davies is 1-1 with a 4.58 ERA in three starts against the Bucs this season.