Brewers 8, Reds 7

Mark Kotsay capped Milwaukee’s first rally with a big home run.

His encore was even more dramatic.

Kotsay hit a two-out, two-run single in the ninth off Reds

closer Francisco Cordero after he previously homered in the sixth

and the Brewers rallied twice to beat Cincinnati 8-7 on Friday

night for their third straight victory.

”I’m looking for a fastball, but he’s got a great split,”

Kotsay said. ”I know he has a good fastball, and at that point, he

could have thrown it, could have thrown a split. I was just trying

to battle and stay in the at-bat and not chase anything out of the

zone.”

Kotsay is in the lineup while Ryan Braun recovers from a

strained left hamstring and got a second chance, too, after going

from hero to zero.

He homered to start the sixth, giving Milwaukee a 5-4 lead, but

bumbled a play in left field in the seventh and the Reds went on to

score three times to take a 7-5 lead.

”I had a chance to redeem myself,” Kotsay said.

Did he ever.

In the ninth, Cordero began the inning by walking George

Kottaras before Nyjer Morgan hit a one-out triple. Corey Hart hit a

chopper in the draw-in infield and Zack Cozart, the rookie

shortstop, threw out Morgan at the plate after Morgan collided hard

with catcher Ryan Hanigan.

Cordero walked Prince Fielder to bring up Casey McGehee, who

grounded to third, reaching on an infield hit. Fielder was replaced

with the speedy Carlos Gomez at second and with the bases loaded,

Kotsay hit a hard single to right.

It appeared a play at the plate was coming and Gomez slid home,

but Jay Bruce’s throw was well over Hanigan’s head and the

celebration was on.

”We have good character here,” said Kotsay, who improved to 6

for 13 against Cordero. ”We talk about it a lot – we play the game

to the final out. That’s what the manager expects, what the fans

expect, and that’s what we’re here to do. I don’t know if every

club has that demeanor. We’ve showed our character a few times this

year. Every team wants to have that ability, but I think this club

has had it in the past and we continue the tradition.”

It was Cincinnati’s sixth loss in the last eight games and

Cordero blew his second straight save after failing on Wednesday in

St. Louis.

”I think I threw him a good pitch, but he got the best part of

it,” Cordero said. ”I don’t know if I made a mistake or if he

just hit a good pitch.”

The win gives Milwaukee sole possession of first place in the NL

Central, a game ahead of St. Louis and Pittsburgh. The Reds are

four games back and season-worst two games under .500 for the first

time in more than a year.

”It’s a devastating loss,” Cordero said. ”We’re chasing the

Brewers and the Pirates and St. Louis. We could’ve been a game

closer, but now we’re a game further back.”

Marco Estrada (2-5) earned the win by pitching the ninth, but

the rest of Milwaukee’s bullpen struggled.

”I knew that if I went out there and gave them a clean inning,

that we would come back,” Estrada said. ”That’s how good our

offense is.”

Leading 5-4, Zach Braddock gave up three runs in the seventh.

Cozart singled and Joey Votto doubled down the left-field line,

which Kotsay misplayed, allowing Votto to reach third.

Brandon Phillips followed with a go-ahead sacrifice fly and

Bruce hit his 20th homer of the year to give the Reds a 7-5

lead.

Cincinnati earlier built a 2-0 lead on Votto’s 13th homer of the

season and Bruce’s RBI single in the first. Mat Gamel booted Scott

Rolen’s grounder to third, allowing two more runs to score in the

third inning to make it 4-0.

Rickie Weeks, a first-time All-Star, hit an inside-the-park

homer when his deep fly ball in the bottom of the third caromed

oddly off the angled wall in right-center field. He scored without

a throw home for his 17th homer of the season and second in as many

days to cut it to 4-1.

Milwaukee added three runs in the fifth off a double by Weeks, a

single by Morgan and a sacrifice fly by Fielder tied it before

Kotsay drove in three of Milwaukee’s final four runs including his

game-ending hit.

”I wanted that opportunity,” Kotsay said. ”I knew it could

get around to me. Not that it was going to turn out great – I still

could have been the goat, you know? But fortunately the line drive

goes somewhere that they’re not, and we win.”

NOTES: Brewers starter Zack Greinke struck out 10 and scored a

run. … Weeks’ inside-the-park homer was the second of his career.

… The last time the Reds were two games under .500 was April 27,

2010. … The Brewers have hit 103 homers so far this season, the

sixth straight year they’ll have at least 100 homers by the

All-Star break. … Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, who

played college football at Wisconsin, took batting practice before

the game and hit seven home runs.