Reds salvage split against Brewers
Jonny Gomes' tiebreaking homer gave the Cincinnati Reds a series split that neither team really wanted.
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Gomes hit a two-run shot in the eighth inning Sunday for a 5-3 victory and a split of their four-game series with the Milwaukee Brewers, who vented their frustration at the home plate umpire before accepting the reality that neither struggling team made any progress over the weekend.
"It's disappointing, to be honest with you," said Craig Counsell, who took a called third strike to end it. "Today's game was right there for the taking, and we couldn't get the runs across and get the lead."
Only Gomes had the touch.
He connected for his sixth homer off Seth McClung (3-3), who had a tough time in his two appearances during the series. McClung walked two and gave up a three-run homer by Edwin Encarnacion in the opening game, but the Brewers held on to win.
Gomes also had a run-scoring single, helping Cincinnati win for only the fourth time in 12 games.
Gomes doesn't usually play against right-handed pitchers, but was in the lineup because Laynce Nix had tightness in his back before the game. This time, the depleted Reds had an injury work in their favor.
"I don't know how many starts I have against right-handers this year," said Gomes, who was batting only .268 against them coming into the game. "It bothers me a little bit."
David Weathers (2-2) pitched a perfect eighth inning, striking out a pair of batters. Francisco Cordero got the last three outs for his 22nd save in 23 chances, extending his recent streak of dominance. Cordero, the Reds' lone All-Star, has allowed only one hit in his last eight appearances.
After plate umpire Kevin Causey called out Counsell to end it, Brewers batting coach Dale Sveum vented his frustration over the strike zone. The umpires have to walk past the end of the Brewers' dugout to reach their dressing room, and Sveum yelled at Causey, prompting crew chief Derryl Cousins to step in.
The Brewers already were unhappy with Causey, who made a disputed interference call at second base against Mike Cameron in the second game of the series, a 4-0 Reds win.
"He felt that this guy's strike zone was a little erratic," manager Ken Macha said, adding that "the strike zone got a little wide in the eighth and ninth innings." Milwaukee had five batters called out on strikes overall.
The series matched a pair of NL Central teams that went into the All-Star break on pronounced downturns. Milwaukee fell out of first place in the NL Central during its slide, while the Reds fell to fifth. Milwaukee hasn't won back-to-back games since June 29-30.
"It's not good enough," Counsell said of the series split.
Prince Fielder, who won the All-Star Home Run Derby earlier in the week, hit his second homer of the series and had three hits overall. His two-run shot off Johnny Cueto put the Brewers up 3-2 in the third. The Reds tied it on Gomes' single in the bottom of the inning off Yovani Gallardo.
Both starters went six innings and left with the score tied at 3.
Cueto got out of the first inning unscathed, a notable change for the 23-year-old pitcher. In his last two starts, Cueto gave up a total of 12 runs in the first inning.
Getting past Fielder was something else.
Fielder had a single, double and two-run homer off Cueto, extending his season-long tear against Cincinnati. The first baseman is batting .333 with five homers in a dozen games against the Reds this season.
Gallardo's problem has been a complete lack of help from Milwaukee's offense. He'd lost his last three starts, getting no runs while he was in the game. Twice, the Brewers wound up being shut out.
All-Star outfielder Ryan Braun returned to the Brewers' lineup after missing one game with a bruised right thumb. He went 0 for 4 with a pair of strikeouts.
Brewers C Jason Kendall extended his hitting streak to a season-high nine games. ... Reds C Ramon Hernandez was scheduled for surgery on Tuesday to clean out his left knee, which has bothered him for the last two months. The Reds plan to call up C Craig Tatum from Triple-A Louisville. ... SS Alex Gonzalez left for Louisville to start a rehab assignment. Gonzalez had surgery to clean out his throwing elbow on June 22. He could be activated for a series against the Cubs next weekend.