MILWAUKEE -- The way the fourth inning unfolded on Tuesday night, one might have wondered whether Junior Guerra had cracked a clubhouse mirror before tripping over a black cat on his way to the mound under a full moon at Miller Park.But despite a middle-inning mess that was part the
MILWAUKEE -- The way the fourth inning unfolded on Tuesday night, one might have wondered whether Junior Guerra had cracked a clubhouse mirror before tripping over a black cat on his way to the mound under a full moon at Miller Park.
But despite a middle-inning mess that was part the Brewers' own making, part buzzard's luck, they rebounded to tie the game in the eighth only to lose in the ninth, 9-7, on a Reds rally that began with Scooter Gennett's two-out solo home run.
The homer off left-hander Dan Jennings capped a two-hit, three-RBI night for Gennett, the former Milwaukee second baseman who was let go via waivers during Spring Training in 2017. And it cost the Brewers a chance to gain on the National League Central-leading Cubs, who retained a three-game lead in the division despite a 2-1 loss to the Tigers.
In the NL Wild Card race, Milwaukee fell a half-game back of the Cardinals for the top spot and remained percentage points ahead of the Phillies and Rockies, who also lost on Tuesday.
"Right now, we can't afford to lose too many games," said Brewers third baseman Mike Moustakas, who lamented a pair of defensive lapses in a nightmarish fourth inning. "But that's a Major League Baseball team over there. [The Reds] are a good ballclub and they took advantage of our mistakes."
Those mistakes marred a night in which the Brewers took a 4-0 lead in the first inning against Reds starter Sal Romano, led 5-3 in the third on Travis Shaw's second home run in as many games, and pulled even at 7-7 in the eighth on slumping newcomer Jonathan Schoop's first home run since being acquired on July 31, and Ryan Braun's tying double.
The Reds did most of their damage in the third and fourth innings against Guerra with a mix of outright errors, misplays, soft contact and good fortune to score seven runs against the right-hander -- only two of which were earned.
In a fourth inning that seemed to Guerra like it would never end, all four Reds runs were unearned.
"It was one of the hardest innings of my career," he said. "I guess there's always a first. I don't really know what to say about that inning."
Actually, there were two tough innings, but right fielder Eric Thames' run-scoring error in Cincinnati's three-run third was an afterthought when things really unraveled for the Brewers in the fourth. In that inning alone, the Reds capitalized on Moustakas' run-scoring error on a throw home, Erik Kratz's run-scoring passed ball, a Moustakas bobble on a tough play that should have been an inning-ending pickoff, and three straight infield hits -- all with two out, and one of which struck an umpire -- that turned into a Milwaukee deficit.
To top it off, Kratz and his pitcher got crossed up for the second time in four days for a passed ball and a run.
"It was probably one of the craziest innings I've been in baseball," Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton said. "We get three infield singles and one hits the umpire, and you get a passed ball and the guy goes back to third and misses it at third. It's like, 'I have no idea. It's just a crazy inning.' It's definitely one of the top ones I've been a part of. I'm glad it just worked out on our end. It helped us out, big time."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Moose's throw home: The third baseman has provided sound defense since coming over in a trade with the Royals, but Moustakas lamented his critical error in the fourth. With runners at the corners, one out and the pitcher on deck, the Brewers were poised to convert a big out at home on Brandon Dixon's grounder. But Moustakas bounced the throw in the dirt for a run-scoring error that extended the Reds' rally.
"I rushed it a little bit." Moustakas said. "I should have taken a little more time, got a better grip and made a better throw. Once that happened, everything kind of unraveled after that.
"Junior threw the ball great for us, and to have an inning like that, it's obviously tough, especially when we could have got out of it a couple of times. … I should have picked him up when I had the chance."
Umpire in traffic: Even after Moustakas' mistake, and Hamilton's well-placed infield single, the Brewers were positioned to escape the inning with only one run scored when Ervin hit a line drive -- a modest 84 mph off the bat, according to Statcast™ -- toward second baseman Shaw. But umpire Hunter Wendelstedt happened to be positioned right in the baseball's flight path, and by rule the ball was dead when it hit him. One run scored on the play, and Gennett followed with a soft bouncer to no-man's land on the left side of the infield to give the Reds a 6-5 lead.
"I don't think I've seen it in person," Guerra said. "It wasn't hit that hard, either, so I didn't think it was going to hit him. But it just got him."
After that happened, Hamilton said, the Reds felt it was a game they had to win.
"You look up and the second baseman is right there where the ball would have been. It was hit right to him," Hamilton said. "You think, 'This inning has to be our inning. We have to do something with this inning. It's just like made for us.'"
HE SAID IT
"It's the last thing you expect, for sure. But give Scooter credit -- he did the job." -- Counsell, on Gennett's homer off Jennings, who had allowed only one home run to a left-handed batter in 98 at-bats before Tuesday, while Gennett entered the game with four home runs in 134 at-bats against southpaws
Rookie right-hander Freddy Peralta will get another chance to tame the first inning at 1:10 p.m. CT on Wednesday when he starts for the Brewers in the series finale against the Reds at Miller Park. Peralta tried getting hot in the weight room before a start in St. Louis last week, but he surrendered two runs in the first inning to drive his ERA in the opening frame to 9.00 after 12 big league starts. Righty Robert Stephenson starts for Cincinnati.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.