Between dominating on the mound and driving in the only runs scored on the night, Wily Peralta did it all.
Peralta allowed just three hits in eight scoreless innings Friday night, allowing his two-run double in the fifth inning to stand as the difference in Milwaukee’s 2-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ballpark.
Still hitting 96 mph in the eighth inning, Peralta’s two-seam fastball was electric. He allowed the first two hitters he faced to reach but then allowed just three baserunners the rest of the night.
"He was nasty," Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. "His two-seamer was nasty, man. That pitch right there is one of the best pitches that I’ve ever seen, ever caught, ever faced. It’s just a hard, bearing in two-seamer at 98, 97. I mean, good luck."
The way Peralta threw the ball Friday was reminiscent of his shutout against the Reds last July 9 at Miller Park. Peralta needed 113 pitches to go all nine innings that night, but throwing 24 pitches in the first inning helped prevent him from finishing the game this time around.
Chris Heisey led off with a single and Joey Votto walked to give the Reds two on with nobody out in the first, but Peralta responded by getting Todd Frazier to hit into a double play and struck out Jay Bruce to end the inning.
After that, Peralta was dialed in.
"It was location," Peralta said. "I was able to locate my pitches and was throwing strikes. Early I left some fastballs up in the zone that were fouled off, but after that I was able to locate my pitches and go right after them."
Reds starter Mike Leake was nearly as good, but Peralta provided the only blemish on his counterpart’s final line. With two outs in the fifth inning, Peralta drove the first pitch he saw from Leake over the head of Bruce in right field for a two-run double.
"Sometimes that’s what you need to do to win a ball game," Peralta said. "(Leake) was throwing the ball well. He just threw me a fastball right down the middle and I was able to put a good swing on it and scored a couple of runs."
Traditionally a slow starter, Peralta’s first six starts of 2014 have been excellent. The 24-year-old hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in an outing this season and has gone at least 6 1/3 innings in each of his last five starts.
His eight shutout innings lowered his ERA to 2.04 and gave him his fourth win of the season.
"This is what he did the second half of last year," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "He had some games that were as good as you could possibly pitch. This isn’t like it is different than last year, but last year he started off slow and was inconsistent. This year he hasn’t done that. Whether it is maturity, whether it is figuring things out or whether it was him coming into spring training wanting to get off to a good start — one of those is why things are going so well for him."
Roenicke considered taking Peralta out after seven innings but decided to run his young right-hander back out for the eighth at 97 pitches. The decision proved to be wise as Peralta struck out two and got Votto to fly out to center to complete his night.
While Peralta gave most of Milwaukee’s bullpen a night off, Roenicke had to go to closer Francisco Rodriguez for the ninth inning because the offense couldn’t muster much against Leake and reliever Logan Ondrusek.
The Brewers have scored less than three runs in three straight games and have plated more than five runs in a game just once since April 11.
"It is a struggle," Roenicke said. "We’re not picking up the runs when we have a chance to. We had a couple of chances today, and we’re not getting it done. We continue to pitch well and that’s why we are winning, but we need to start being better when we have those opportunities."