Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell was certain the Brewers would start scoring after being held to two runs during a four-game weekend sweep by the Chicago Cubs.
They scored just enough runs at just the right time Monday to pull out a 6-5 win over the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park, and now they’ll send their best pitcher to the mound for the second game of the four-game series on Tuesday.
The matchup features two staff aces — even if only one of them is currently pitching like it — in the Brewers’ Chase Anderson (2-2, 2.86 ERA) and the Reds’ Homer Bailey (0-3, 4.19 ERA). Bailey hasn’t won since pitching seven shutout innings in the Reds’ 6-0 decision over the Brewers on Sept. 27.
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The Brewers, who have won nine of 13 despite despite being swept by the Cubs, trailed 5-3 on Monday before scoring three runs in a seventh inning keyed by Domingo Santana’s two-run double.
“We had a great inning in the seventh, two outs and nobody on, and we had a series of great at-bats. A lot of good at-bats,” Counsell said.
Left-hander Josh Hader then became the first reliever in major league history to get a save by striking out eight in less than three innings, doing so by getting every out via strikeout in 2 2/3 innings.
“Your mouth was open watching it. It was incredible,” Counsell said. “Thirty-seven pitches for eight strikeouts is incredible.”
Now the Brewers turn to Anderson, who is pitching deep into games, especially by today’s standards, although that didn’t help him the last time out. He lasted seven innings Thursday against the Cubs, giving up five hits and one run, but it run came on a Kyle Schwarber homer that gave the Cubs a 1-0 decision.
One worry for Anderson is, despite his effectiveness, he already has given up seven home runs in six starts. The right-hander allowed only 14 homers all last season while going 12-4.
“If I’m pitching deep into games, it really doesn’t matter,” Anderson said. “If I give up only one run every time I go out, I feel like I give the team a chance to win. So it doesn’t matter.”
Bailey’s problem is he’s giving up home runs, too, but he’s not necessarily going deep into games. He lasted only 50 pitches and five innings Thursday against Atlanta, but homers by Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies gave the Braves a four-run they ultimately turned into a 7-4 win, even if Bailey didn’t figure in the decision.
Bailey has allowed four homers in his last two starts and five in his last three.
“I was really trying to go deep into the game,” Bailey said. “That was my plan. When you do that, you have to take a few chances. My slider has been really bad the last two games. That’s three homers on sliders that have beat us.”
This will be the 27th time in his career the right-handed Bailey has opposed the Brewers; he’s 7-9 with a 4.65 ERA against them.
Anderson is 2-1 with a 2.68 ERA in seven games against the Reds. Among the key Reds batters, Joey Votto is 3-for-9 (.333) with two doubles, Billy Hamilton is 3-for-12 (.250) and Eugenio Suarez is 1-for-11 (0.90).
Cincinnati, which has the worst record in the major leagues at 7-22, may be without second baseman Scooter Gennett, who was out of the lineup Monday after undergoing an MRI on a sore throwing shoulder that has hampered his throwing all season. He already has four errors.
“He’s a tough little guy,” interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “He wants to be in there … (but) cold weather (made it) worse than other days.”