Perez executes eyes-closed squeeze bunt

Brewers utility man provides insurance run in win over Reds on Sunday

Perez executes eyes-closed squeeze bunt

MILWAUKEE -- It was part execution, part self-preservation. And Hernan Perez did it with his eyes closed.

"A ball that's up and in like that, you'd close your eyes, too," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.

Perez's daring suicide squeeze bunt in the fourth inning pushed home a critical insurance run in what became a 7-4 win over the Reds on Sunday, giving the Brewers their first back-to-back victories at Miller Park since they won five straight in early July.

The Brewers rarely bunt -- only the Phillies, Pirates and Dodgers have fewer sacrifice bunts by position players than Milwaukee's six. But Counsell put on the play after Eric Sogard tripled into the right-field corner with one out in the fourth, Perez in a 2-1 count, pitcher Matt Garza on deck and the Brewers having just seen a 3-0 lead shaved to 3-2 on Adam Duvall's two-run home run in the top of the inning.

Reds right-hander Sal Romano threw a 95.6-mph fastball high and tight as Sogard broke for home. Perez leaned in, then leaned back and got the bat on the baseball.

"I had to do whatever I can," Perez said "Thank god I hit the ball and it didn't hit my face. It was scary."

"That suicide squeeze, he was pretty lucky he got the ball down and got another run," Romano said.

Garza felt the same way from the on-deck circle.

"I think it was more blocking his face than trying to bunt the ball," said Garza, who pitched into the sixth inning for the victory Sunday. "Hey, whatever works. It doesn't matter how it looks, as long as it gets the job done."

"First you have to get a bat on it," Counsell said, "but to get it fair was pretty incredible. I think we were kind of expecting a foul ball with a pitch like that. He ended up making a very nice bunt."

For both Perez and Sogard, part of the trick was not giving the play away after third-base coach Ed Sedar relayed the signal from the bench.

"It's always exicting," Sogard said. "For me, with a right-handed pitcher, I didn't want to leave too early to give it away. I figured if 'HP' was going to get it down, I would score.

"I think we're starting to play like the team we are. It's the right time for that to happen."

After that bit of small ball, Domingo Santana tacked on three more runs with a long ball in the fifth. The Brewers scored 23 runs in three games against the Reds after scoring 22 times in their previous nine games.

Santana's three-run home run

"We started hitting and supporting the pitching staff," Perez said. "If we can do that, we can give the pitchers a breather and they can relax. … I think if we keep doing that, we're going to have success."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.