CINCINNATI — When it comes to facing the Brewers in this year’s Series, the Reds will have one more piece of the apple. It sure didn’t taste very good yet.
Another bitter bite on Sunday came during the 4-3 defeat at Great American Ball Park, which completed a three-game sweep of Milwaukee. The Brewers have taken each of the last four and eight of their last 10 games in the season series.
“They slapped us all over the place, there’s no hiding it,” said Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson. “They’ve done well. We’re confident. When we get back out there, we have to prove ourselves again.”
The Brewers, two games behind Cincinnati on July 6, opened up a two-game lead in the National League Central race as the Reds squandered an opportunity to put distance between themselves and their nearest rival.
“I think it will encourage us more to play against them next time,” said Ben Lively, the starting Reds player. “We certainly won’t let that happen again. It was tough.”
Lively, who pitched four solid innings with one run allowed on a Christian Yelich home run in the top of the third inning, was knocked out as a precaution before the fifth inning due to a cramp. He is expected to make his next start.
The Reds’ offense finally showed some signs of life after three straight losses to the Brewers, including one before the All-Star break, but a defensive gag by quarterback TJ Friedel led to the Brewers scoring to go on.
Cincinnati took a 3-2 lead in the top of the eighth inning as Milwaukee had runners in the corners. Owen Miller’s sacrifice fly drove to deep center. After trolling, Friedel made an ambitious throw to the plate, over the man-cutter as Willie Adams scored with ease. That enabled runner Tyrone Taylor to advance to second base. Taylor scored on Andrew Monasterio’s RBI single for the difference in the game.
“TJ was trying to put on a play,” said Reds coach David Bell. “We encourage our players and all our defenders to make plays, so we don’t get scared of not making plays. In that case, if he has to do it again, he makes the throw for second and keeps the runner on first. TJ will learn from that. He’s a smart player. He does many things right on the baseball field.”
Cincinnati hit its first extra base hit of the series in the second inning when Joey Votto’s RBI double on the wall in left center field scored Jonathan India’s. He ended the Reds’ season-high scoring streak with 28 innings. Jake Fraley’s homer in the third gave the Reds a 3-1 lead.
“Getting back on the board was great. There are definitely signs,” Bell said. “Today was a good day in that regard. It felt like the kind of game where we usually keep scoring and we just couldn’t do it. It made it difficult for our team. That’s what we’ve done all year. We’re going back to doing that.”
On the plus side, the Reds have had a strong start in their last four losses to Milwaukee – five earned runs allowed over 21 2/3 innings. A notable negative was . 117 offensive batting in those same games with 51 strikeouts.
The final series between the two top teams in the division is set July 24-26 in Milwaukee. Besides the Brewers, the Reds have a lot on their plate for the remainder of this month.
First up is a four-game series against a super hot Giants team that has won five games in a row. From July 21-23, the Defenders D came to town for three games. Then comes the Brewers again, followed by a three-game series against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.
If the regular season ends today, all four opponents will be in the postseason. The Rouge will be outside.
“We just have to play baseball well. We’re more than capable of winning these games,” said Reds first baseman Spencer Steer. “You have hot bats and they suddenly get cold. It’s just the way it goes sometimes. You have to keep going.” In getting away and finding ways to win some of the next games here.”
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