Brewers break out of slump with 6-5 win over Reds
CINCINNATI — Domingo Santana’s double put the Milwaukee Brewers in position to end their slump. Left-hander Josh Hader finished it off with one of the most dominant relief appearances in big league history.
Santana drove in the go-ahead runs in the seventh inning, and Hader set a major league record by striking out eight batters for a 6-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Monday night.
Hader fanned eight of the nine batters he faced in 2 1/3 innings, the first reliever to strike out eight in less than three innings, according to information the Brewers received from the Elias Sports Bureau. He also walked a batter.
“I don’t know what to say about Josh — literally,” manager Craig Counsell said. “Your mouth’s kind of wide open watching it. It was absolutely incredible.”
Hader hadn’t pitched since Wednesday because the Brewers had been in an historically bad offensive funk. He was fresh on Monday and made a little history along with earning his fourth save in as many chances. The eight strikeouts set a career high. All of his saves have been multiple-inning performances.
Asked to describe it, Hader said: “Fun. A lot of fun.”
Fun all-around for Milwaukee, which managed only two runs while losing four straight at Wrigley Field last weekend, matching its worst offensive showing for such a series. The Brewers had 14 hits total, a franchise worst, and were blanked on two hits in each of the last two games.
Manny Pina ended their streak of 23 scoreless innings with a solo homer in the fourth off left-hander Brandon Finnegan, who hasn’t won in more than a year. Lorenzo Cain added a two-run shot in the fifth, and the Brewers overcame a 5-3 deficit in the seventh to stop their losing streak at four games.
Wandy Peralta (1-2) gave up a hit and a pair of walks to fuel the rally. A throwing error by catcher Tucker Barnhart let in one run, and Santana doubled over Billy Hamilton’s head in center field for a 6-5 lead.
Brandon Woodruff (1-0) retired the four batters he faced. Hader then closed it out with eight strikeouts on only 37 pitches. He’s fanned 39 batters in 18 innings this season.
“I don’t think anybody could hit him tonight,” Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said.
Cincinnati fell to 7-22, matching the worst 29-game start in franchise history. The Reds had the same record in 1931 and 1934.
The Reds’ collapse overshadowed Eugenio Suarez’s best game since he returned from a broken thumb.
Suarez doubled home a pair of runs in the fourth off Jhoulys Chacin and singled with the bases loaded in the fifth off Jacob Barnes, reminding the Reds of what they’ve missed while he was sidelined for 16 games. In five games back, he’s 8 for 22 with three doubles and seven RBIs.
Suarez agreed to a $66 million, seven-year contract during spring training, the first significant deal the Reds have given during their rebuild.
STILL NO WIN
Finnegan’s last victory was April 5 last year, when he made only four starts because of back and shoulder injuries. He was sidelined to start this season by a strained left biceps. He’s been the victim of blown saves in his last two starts.
“My pitches aren’t as sharp as they were at the beginning of last season,” Finnegan said. “I guess this is still kind of my spring training.”
The Reds are 4-7 under Riggleman, who took over when Bryan Price was fired on April 19.
The Reds sold 9,536 tickets, the third-smallest attendance in Great American Ball Park history. They drew 9,463 for a game on April 23 against Atlanta. The smallest paid attendance in the ballpark’s 16-year history was 9,087 for the second game of a doubleheader against Pittsburgh on Aug. 31, 2009.
Brewers: RHP Corey Knebel threw 25 pitches to teammates during batting practice. Knebel has been sidelined since April 6 by a strained left hamstring. Counsell said the Brewers will have a better idea on Tuesday about when he might make a rehab appearance.
Reds: 2B Scooter Gennett was out of the lineup with a sore right shoulder, which has been bothering him since spring training. He pinch-hit and struck out, ending a six-game hitting streak.
Brewers: Chase Anderson (2-2) has quality starts in four of his six appearances. Opponents are batting .207 off him.
Reds: Homer Bailey (0-3) has more starts (26) and innings (156 2/3) against the Brewers than any other team. He went 2-1 in four starts against Milwaukee last season with a 4.71 ERA.