MILWAUKEE (AP) — Jonathan Lucroy has been frustrated, struggling at the plate the past month despite being named to his first All-Star team.
That all changed Tuesday night against the Cincinnati Reds.
Lucroy homered leading off the bottom of the ninth to give the Milwaukee Brewers a 4-3 victory over the Reds.
“To be honest with you, the last couple of weeks have been kind of tough for making solid contact, but I’m glad to help the team out, contribute and get it done tonight,” said Lucroy, who was batting just .200 (21 for 105) in his last 25 games.
It was Lucroy’s second homer of the game and 11th of the season. It was his second career walkoff homer and both were against the Reds. His first was last season off closer Aroldis Chapman and this one was off Sam LeCure.
The Brewers had lost five consecutive series before beating the Reds in the first two games of this series.
Lucroy’s average had dipped from .341 on June 18 to .308 entering Tuesday night’s game.
“He’s frustrated because he thinks he’s squaring up some balls,” Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said. “It’s not like he wasn’t locked in, but today obviously he was.”
Francisco Rodriguez (4-3) pitched the ninth to earn the victory.
Cincinnati, which is 0-5 since the All-Star break, brought in LeCure (1-2) to pitch the ninth. His outing lasted just three pitches as Lucroy hit a 1-1 offering for a line drive homer inside the left field foul pole.
His first homer of the game was on a 3-2 pitch from starter Homer Bailey in the sixth.
The Reds came out of the All-Star break just 1½ games behind Milwaukee in the NL Central but have quickly fallen 4½ games back.
“We just haven’t executed,” Cincinnati manager Bryan Price said. “We haven’t swung the bats well. We haven’t gotten a quality start.
“And we haven’t played particularly good defense, we’ve missed some signs and just haven’t played terribly well,” he said.
Milwaukee scored all its runs on solo home runs. Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez hit back-to-back homers in the first inning on the one-year anniversary of the start of Braun’s 65-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s drug policies.
“I’m glad I’m not facing them so it’s nice to have them on our side,” Milwaukee starter Jimmy Nelson said of having Braun, Ramirez and Lucroy in the lineup.
Braun hit his 13th homer and Ramirez followed with his 12th homer, and first since June 26.
Cincinnati made it 2-1 in the fourth on Jay Bruce’s RBI double that scored Billy Hamilton from third.
Lucroy’s first homer extended Milwaukee’s lead to 3-1.
Cincinnati tied it 3-3 in the seventh. Nelson hit Ramon Santiago on the foot with a pitch with the bases loaded and pinch-hitter Chris Heisey hit a sacrifice fly off reliever Brandon Kintzler.
Billy Hamilton then hit a soft fly ball but Zack Cozart was doubled off second base to end the inning.
Kintzler, Zach Duke and Rodriguez pitched three hitless innings of relief for Milwaukee.
“Kintzler did a great job, coming in with the bases loaded and no outs,” Nelson said.
The Reds managed only five hits and Milwaukee had six.
Nelson allowed three runs, four hits and a walk and hit three batters while striking out five in his fourth major league start.
“He was down in the zone and his slider was good,” Roenicke said.
Bailey allowed three runs, four hits and two walks while striking out three in his first start since leaving a game against the Chicago Cubs on July 10 due to right knee soreness.
MILWAUKEE (AP) — After another tough loss for the Reds, Cincinnati manager Bryan Price still believes in his team.
Mark Reynolds homered twice to help the Milwaukee Brewers sweep the three-game series from the Reds with a 5-1 win on Wednesday.
Kyle Lohse pitched 6 2-3 strong innings to hand the Reds their a season-worst sixth straight loss since the All-Star break.
“Anybody that watches our six games on this road trip would understand that we’re not playing as we were leading into the break,” Price said. “We’re not scoring a lot of runs. We’re not getting terribly efficient starting pitching. We know that we’re a better club than we’ve represented here in the last six games.”
The then surging Reds trailed the NL Central-leading Brewers by 1 1/2 games before the All-Star break, but the loss dropped them 5 1-2 games behind.
“I think that our guys are capable of turning it around,” Price said. “We’re definitely going to start to pitch better and definitely are more than capable of scoring enough runs to win games.”
Cincinnati have scored 12 runs during the losing streak.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke knows the Brewers had a better chance of winning without two key Reds in the lineup.
The Reds are missing Joey Votto (left knee) and Brandon Phillips (left thumb), who are on the disabled list.
“There’s still some guys in their lineup we have to worry about, but when you take out the two guys, those guys do a lot of damage against us,” Roenicke said.
Reds starter Mike Leake allowed 11 hits in six innings as the Reds lost a season-high nine road games.
“We’re all trying hard, but we’ve got of our best players, if not our two best players that are rehabbing right now,” Leake said.
Reynolds connected on a 1-1 pitch from Leake (7-9) for his 15th home run of the season. Rickie Weeks was on with a double to start the sixth.
Reynolds’ second home run came off reliever Jumbo Diaz in the eighth.
Lohse and Leake were scoreless until the fifth inning. The Reds pushed across a run on Billy Hamilton’ sacrifice fly, but the Brewers tied it with a run scoring triple from Carlos Gomez and then took the lead when Gomez scored on Ryan Braun’s infield single.
Lohse (11-4) walked two, struck out three and allowed four hits, the last to pinch-hitter Donald Lutz who doubled.
Brewers reliever Jeremy Jeffress, whose contract was selected from Triple-A Nashville, made his debut for Milwaukee with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
NOTES: Reds SS Zack Cozart missed the game. He left Tuesday’s game after he was hit by a pitch on the first two fingers on his right hand. Manager Bryan Price said he could pinch hit. . Hamilton’s sacrifice fly in the top of the fifth was his sixth which ties him for third on the NL leaders’ list. . Alfredo Simon (12-4) starts Friday when the Reds take on the Washington Nationals in Cincinnati. Thursday, the Brewers Matt Garza (6-7) faces the New York Mets Dillon Gee (4-2).