CINCINNATI -- Josh Hader had a little extra in the tank on Monday night, so he went out and made history.
The Brewers' left-handed reliever, who hadn't pitched since Wednesday, struck out a career-high eight batters in 2 2/3 innings to close out a 6-5 Brewers victory over the Reds at Great American Ball Park.
"I've never seen a performance like that," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "My mouth was wide open watching him. I don't know what to say about Josh. The slider and changeup are becoming weapons."
No pitcher had ever struck out eight in an outing of less than three innings. The last pitcher to record a save with more than eight strikeouts was Randy Johnson on Aug. 13, 1996. But that was a four-inning save.
Only one other time has a pitcher faced no more than nine batters and fanned eight. On May 4, 1981, Ron Davis of the Yankees got a three-inning save against the Angels and threw three perfect innings with 8 K's. Hader is also the first pitcher to record eight or more outs with all of them coming via strikeout.
"Fun," Hader said, when asked to describe Monday's performance. "My body was feeling good on that rest. It was nice to really let the fastball eat a little bit. I was in and out of the zone, got some swings and misses."
Coming off a dismal four-game sweep this past weekend at Wrigley Field where they managed to score only two runs, the Brewers badly needed a win.
Hader took care of that, earning his fourth save of the season with the Brewers clinging to a one-run lead, and doing so in dominant fashion.
Hader needed only 37 pitches to plow through the Reds' lineup. He faced nine batters, fanning all but one. The only blemish was a walk to Tucker Barnhart in the eighth.
Hader's history-making relief effort overshadowed the Brewers finally breaking out of their offensive slump with home runs by Manny Pina and Lorenzo Cain and a two-run double in the seventh by Domingo Santana that produced the go-ahead runs.
"We had a great inning in the seventh, a series of great at-bats to keep the line moving," Counsell said. "For Domingo to cap that rally, was absolutely perfect. We need to get him going."
Brandon Woodruff (1-0) got the win for Milwaukee.
The Brewers tied a franchise record this past weekend by scoring only two runs while being swept by the Cubs in a four-game series at Wrigley Field. The offensive struggles continued early in Monday's game when the Brewers (17-13) left four runners on through the first three innings.
But Pina snapped Milwaukee's 23-inning scoreless streak with a solo homer with one out in the fourth. Pina's second homer of the season was just out of the reach of a leaping Billy Hamilton in center to put the Brewers ahead 1-0.
Pina's home run was the first run scored by the Brewers since the seventh inning of Friday's game in Chicago.
Cain helped the Brewers regain the lead when he launched his fourth home run on a 2-2 pitch from Reds starter Brandon Finnegan following a single by Jhoulys Chacin to make the score 3-2 in the fifth.
The Brewers' lead was short-lived as Hamilton doubled and scored on Jose Peraza's sacrifice fly to tie the score in the fifth.
Eugenio Suarez drove in two runs with a single to center, and the Brewers trailed 5-3. Suarez had four RBIs on Monday.
Christian Yelich denied Jesse Winker his second extra-base hit of the night with a leaping grab up against the left-field wall to end the sixth.
Then, the big hit that had eluded the Brewers last weekend in Chicago came when Santana's line drive to center sailed over Hamilton's head to drive in two runs and put Milwaukee ahead.
From there, it was all about Hader who finished the game with five straight strikeouts, becoming the first pitcher in baseball history to have at least eight K's in a game in which every out he recorded was a strikeout. In his last outing on Wednesday at Kansas City, Hader struck out the only two batters he faced.
"Every day's a new day," Hader said. "Being able to forget those bad days, and the good days, and stay even keeled, that's the big thing."
Hader struck out Peraza to end Monday's game and leave Joey Votto, who was named National League Player of the Week on Monday, standing in the on-deck circle in a one-run game.
"I don't think anybody was going to hit him tonight," Reds manager Jim Riggleman said. "Even though it says 94 [mph] and a lot of guys throw 94 -- some guys have a little extra hop at the end and I think hitters don't pick it up quite as well. He's been doing it for a month and [it's] really impressive."
Chase Anderson (2-2) will make his seventh start of the season and first against the Reds, against whom he owns a career 2.68 ERA. The Brewers have gone 4-2 in his starts. Anderson was a hard-luck loser in Thursday's 1-0 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Homer Bailey (0-3) will seek his first victory this season in his seventh start for Cincinnati.