Reds ride Scooter into another meeting with Brewers

MILWAUKEE — One of the reasons the Brewers opted to part ways with Scooter Gennett at the end of spring training last season was the perception that he couldn’t hit left-handers consistently enough to be an everyday second baseman.

Since joining the Reds, though, Gennett has proven those critics wrong and especially this season. He came into his ninth-inning at-bat Tuesday night with a .291 average in 144 plate appearances against lefties this season, including four home runs.

And just in case his former team needed another reminder, he hit his fifth home run off a left-hander this season with two out in the ninth inning to give the Reds their fourth victory in five games.

“I can’t hit lefties, right?” Gennett said afterward. “With (Eugenio Suarez) behind me, I look forward to those situations now. Before I was looking over my shoulder, seeing if they were going to take me out.”

Gennett’s 19th homer of the season was only his second of the month and first since Aug .13. After earning his first career All-Star berth with a red-hot first half, Gennett had slumped through the first half of August and was batting .204 for the month before recording four consecutive multi-hit games coming into the series with Milwaukee.

“I feel like the pitches I’m swinging at play a huge role,” Gennett said of his success this season. “I’m putting myself in better counts to get quality pitches to hit and drive. And also playing every day, facing lefties is something I didn’t really get to do over here. That can kind of mess you up a little bit when you get a couple days off and your timing can be affected a little bit.”

Gennett and the Reds will try to notch consecutive series victories for the first time this month Wednesday, when right-hander Robert Stephenson (0-1, 7.94 ERA) takes on Brewers right-hander Freddy Peralta (5-4, 4.48).

Stephenson has yet to face the Brewers this season but is 1-0 with a 4.63 ERA in four previous meetings (one start). He could take the mound with an early lead if the Reds continue the trend of getting to Peralta early.

The rookie has a 9.00 ERA in the first inning this season after allowing 12 earned runs on 13 hits and 10 walks. To break out of that cycle, Peralta tried changing his routine before his last outing at St. Louis and hit the weight room before throwing his first pitch.

“Just trying to find something that works,” Peralta said through translator Carlos Brizuela. “I’m starting to feel a lot more comfortable early on, but it’s something we have to work on.”

Unfortunately, the change didn’t have the result he was hoping for as a two-run single by Marcell Ozuna got the Cardinals on their way to a 5-2 victory.

“He recovered and gave us six good innings, but we have to get to the bottom of the first inning here,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. “We did change some things up today. … Unfortunately, same result.”

Peralta’s only previous outing against Cincinnati came July 1 when the Reds scored three runs on five hits over five innings at Great American Ballpark.