MILWAUKEE (AP) — Three of Tony Cingrani’s 15 starts have come against the Brewers, and he knows Milwaukee can’t lay off his high fastball.
He threw it repeatedly Thursday night and it translated to another impressive outing by the rookie left-hander.
Joey Votto hit a tiebreaking homer in the sixth inning and Cingrani pitched solidly into the seventh, lifting the Cincinnati Reds to a 2-1 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday night.
Cingrani struck out nine in 6 1-3 innings, with the Brewers going down swinging on all but one strikeout.
“They swung at it the last two times I faced them, and they kept swinging at it, so I kept throwing it there,” he said.
The Reds have won five straight and 10 of 13.
Cingrani (6-2) allowed only a second-inning home run to Khris Davis. In eight starts since rejoining the rotation on July 3, he is 3-2 with a 2.12 ERA.
“The Pirates lost, so we picked up another game on them, it was really big,” he said of the Reds pulling within 2 1/2 games of NL Central-leading Pittsburgh.
Cingrani scattered four hits and one walk.
“He’s confident, he’s not intimidated by anybody,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “This is how you want your players to be, especially rookies. He wanted to make this team out of spring training. He’s full of determination and desire, and a lot of confidence.”
In the team’s last seven games, Reds starters are 4-1 with a 1.35 ERA.
Aroldis Chapman worked the ninth for his 30th save in 34 chances.
Votto’s homer on a changeup was the only earned run allowed by Kyle Lohse (8-8) in seven innings. The right-hander also allowed an unearned run on five hits and four walks with four strikeouts in seven innings.
“It wasn’t a very good one,” Lohse said of the changeup to Votto. “I didn’t quite get the grip and I just tried to throw it down and away. It didn’t have any life on it.”
Brewers All-Star center fielder Carlos Gomez sprained his right knee while making a leaping catch at the center field wall in the fourth inning.
Gomez robbed Brandon Phillips of a likely extra-base hit, and crashed awkwardly to the ground with his right knee bent under his body and his right hip hitting the base of the wall in the fourth inning.
The team said Gomez would undergo an MRI on the knee Friday. Gomez said doctors told him an initial exam didn’t show a serious injury, but there was pain in his knee when he tried to run.
“When I start walking around, it starts to feel better but when I try to run, my knee doesn’t let me,” Gomez said.
Milwaukee took a 1-0 lead when Davis hit a 3-2 pitch from Cingrani three rows from the top of the left field bleachers in the second. It was Davis’ fifth homer in his first 49 at-bats this year.
The Reds tied the score 1-all in the fifth with an unearned run. Devin Mesoraco hit a bouncer up the middle, and Jeff Bianchi’s throw pulled first baseman Juan Francisco into the runner’s path and they collided at the bag.
Mesoraco landed on top of Francisco as the ball scooted away.
“He was a good cushion,” Mesoraco said.
He playfully patted Francisco twice on the side before first base coach Billy Hatcher emphatically told him to sprint to second, reaching on Bianchi’s throwing error.
“He was right in the baseline and I had nowhere to go,” Mesoraco said of Francisco. “I thought he caught it, and Hatch said, `Go ahead! Go ahead!’ so I got up and went to second as quick as I could.”
Zack Cozart hit the next pitch from Lohse to center for a single. Logan Schafer’s one-hop throw beat Mesoraco to the plate by several steps, but catcher Jonathan Lucroy couldn’t handle the bounce and he scored to tie the game.
Votto then led off the sixth with his 18th homer of the year to give the Reds the lead for good.
NOTES: Gomez is batting .288 with 18 home runs and 55 RBI in 114 games. He was selected to his first All-Star game this season. … Chapman had 38 saves in 2012, his first year as the team’s closer. … Bianchi saved two runs in the first with a leaping grab in the outfield to rob Ryan Ludwick of a hit with two outs and the bases loaded. … The Brewers are 11-25 against left-handed starters. … Brewers 3B Aramis Ramirez is hitless in nine at-bats since returning from the DL on Tuesday.