Crew stuns Reds as Giannis cheers rally

Milwaukee improves to season-high 28 games over .500, leads Cincy by 8 1/2

August 25th, 2021

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers did a good job of impressing the new boss and put more distance between themselves and the second-place Reds in the process.

With Giannis Antetokounmpo cheering from a suite for the first time since the NBA superstar was introduced as a Brewers investor, Omar Narváez delivered a go-ahead double to finish a four-run rally in the seventh inning that sent Milwaukee to a 7-4 win over the Reds on Tuesday at American Family Field.

The game turned in a hurry following the seventh-inning stretch. Down three runs and nine outs from dropping the opener of the final series against the team chasing them in the National League Central standings, the Brewers instead moved a season-high 28 games over .500, boosted their lead to 8 1/2 games over Cincinnati and let Corbin Burnes off the hook following a so-so start.

“I don't think there's any lead that's too big for us to come back from, like you saw tonight,” Burnes said.

In April and May, a player could not have credibly said that about the 2021 Brewers. But it’s a different team now, even on a night when Willy Adames departed in the first inning with a minor quadriceps issue.

Kolten Wong, Christian Yelich and Avisaíl García also drove in a run apiece in the seventh before Narváez delivered the lead. Wong added a two-run home run in the eighth and finished with three RBIs, García drove in a pair and Devin Williams and Josh Hader (27th save) did what the Reds’ relievers could not: locked down a victory.

“That's huge for us. We know how good that [Reds] team is,” Wong said. “They've been playing really good baseball. They've got a really good offense, really good starting pitching. It's always good to take those games and try to take the morale out of a team, but we've got two more games coming up -- two more big games. They're not going away and neither are we.”

Burnes hadn’t allowed more than one run in eight of his previous nine starts, but the Reds touched him up for four runs in six innings and the Brewers found themselves facing a 4-1 deficit at the seventh-inning stretch.

The rally began just about the time television viewers were alerted to Giannis’ presence at the ballpark. The first four Brewers batters in the bottom of the seventh inning reached safely against Michael Lorenzen in the right-hander’s second inning, including Wong with a run-scoring single before Yelich and García greeted another right-hander, Mychel Givens, with successive sacrifice flies for a 4-4 tie. Narváez promptly broke the tie with a double into the right-field corner while Antetokounmpo celebrated with his young son, Liam.

Lorenzen hadn’t surrendered a run in 13 2/3 innings this season before Tuesday. Givens, a Trade Deadline acquisition, had his own streak of 12 scoreless outings snapped Saturday.

“They threw their two best bullpen arms at us and we were able to score four off their bullpen,” Burnes said. “It's a dangerous [Brewers] lineup. A lot of big bats, both right-handed and left-handed, so it's tough to try to mix and match against us. You can never count out that offense.”

“It could have gone different,” Reds manager David Bell said. “You have to give the Brewers credit for getting something going off of [Lorenzen]. What can you say? He’s been so good. It’s bound to happen to the best of them.”

The Brewers have been making things happen against opposing bullpens with some regularity. Of their 77 victories, 33 have been of the come-from-behind variety, and Milwaukee’s .729 OPS from the seventh inning on entering the night was 10th-best in baseball.

“The common thread is we’ve been very good at grinding out at-bats against other teams’ bullpens,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “I think any time you can make a team, after a good start from their starter, use a bunch of bullpen guys and come out with a win -- especially in the first game of a series -- that’s a satisfying win because you hope you took a little piece of their bullpen.”