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Nelson's 11 K's, Brewers' 6 HRs beat Reds

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CINCINNATI -- After losing Chase Anderson and his 2.89 ERA to the disabled list, the Brewers need starters to step up to keep their surprising contending hopes afloat. A day later, Jimmy Nelson provided reason for optimism.

Nelson allowed two runs on three hits over seven innings during an 11-3 Brewers rout over the Reds on Thursday that salvaged the finale of a three-game series at Great American Ball Park. Nelson also walked one and tied a career high with 11 strikeouts, as he improved to 6-4 with a 3.43 ERA.

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CINCINNATI -- After losing Chase Anderson and his 2.89 ERA to the disabled list, the Brewers need starters to step up to keep their surprising contending hopes afloat. A day later, Jimmy Nelson provided reason for optimism.

Nelson allowed two runs on three hits over seven innings during an 11-3 Brewers rout over the Reds on Thursday that salvaged the finale of a three-game series at Great American Ball Park. Nelson also walked one and tied a career high with 11 strikeouts, as he improved to 6-4 with a 3.43 ERA.

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"When you lose one of your best pitchers, to have the other guy … step up the way he did today, that's encouraging," said left fielder Ryan Braun, who hit the first of six Brewers home runs in the game. "Chase has obviously been phenomenal, but Jimmy has been right there with him. It's exciting to see him take that step forward, because he's always worked hard enough to be that guy. He's wanted to be that guy, and we're seeing it come to fruition."

Said Nelson: "We're just going to have to step up as a rotation and do our job until he can get back. That's why it's a team."

The Brewers' six homers came from Jonathan Villar (who hit two), Jesus Aguilar, Braun, Manny Pina and Domingo Santana. Aguilar's was part of a three-hit, four-RBI night.

Video: MIL@CIN: Aguilar hammers a three-run homer to center

In his second start of the season back from the disabled list, Reds starter Homer Bailey got clobbered again. Bailey gave up six earned runs on six hits -- including three homers -- over three innings with two walks and two strikeouts. In two starts, totaling just 4 2/3 innings, Bailey has a 27.00 ERA.

"It's not the first time I've had two bad games in a row, so we'll just keep going until it kind of sharpens up," said Bailey, who returned Saturday from Feb. 18 elbow surgery that removed bone chips.

• Bailey adds to Reds' rotation struggles

The Brewers sent nine to the plate during a four-run third inning, which was started by a Villar solo homer off Bailey to right-center field. In reliever Kevin Shackelford's big league debut, Villar greeted him with a lead-off homer in the fourth inning. Shackelford then gave up a pair of one-out hits before Aguilar hit a three-run homer to center field that made it 10-0.

Video: MIL@CIN: Villar crushes his second homer of the game

The six homers in the game were one shy of a Great American Ball Park record for one team in a game, and it was also the sixth time in franchise history that Milwaukee hit six or more homers in a game. The club record is seven.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Braun shows brawn, again: In his third game back from the disabled list, Braun maintained his personal destruction of the Reds with his second homer in as many nights. With two outs in the first inning, Braun pulled a solo homer off of the left-field foul pole for a 1-0 lead. It was his 24th career homer at Great American Ball Park, which broke Lance Berkman's record for a visiting player at the stadium.

"I think Ryan's health is the thing -- being able to play three games means he's feeling pretty good," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "I wasn't too worried he wasn't going to hit. He's going to hit."

Video: MIL@CIN: Braun lines a solo homer off the foul pole

Votto foils Nelson twice: Nelson didn't allow any hits until the fourth inning, and of his three for the game, two were solo home runs from Joey Votto. The Reds' first baseman lifted a 1-1 pitch to right field in the fourth and started the Reds' half of the seventh with a lead-off homer on a 3-1 pitch to center field. Votto has 23 homers for the season after hitting 29 for all of 2016.

"I have not seen this type of power display and the consistency of barrel-on-ball for power since I've been here," Reds manager Bryan Price said.

QUOTABLE
"The goal is to get to October in first place, not July. It's a good position to be in, and we're there now, but the goal is to continue to play good baseball and win series. I still feel like our best baseball is ahead of us." -- Braun, after the Brewers ensured they would finish June with at least a share of first place in the National League Central

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
It was the sixth time that at least eight home runs were hit at Great American Ball Park in one game. The ballpark record since it opened in 2003 is 10, set on April 14, 2014, by the Reds and Pirates.

Video: MIL@CIN: Santana cranks a solo homer to center field

UNDER REVIEW
• In the top of the third inning, Aguilar's drive to right field landed at the base of the wall and went under the padding. Arismendy Alcantara did not raise his arms asking for a ground-rule double and retrieved the ball as Santana scored. The Reds challenged the ruling on the field to seek a dead-ball ruling. The call on the field was confirmed, though, as the ball was not viewed as being lodged under the padding.

Video: MIL@CIN: Reds challenge double, call confirmed

Price argued the outcome with home-plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth and was eventually ejected. It was Price's 11th career ejection and his third for arguing after a replay ruling.

Video: MIL@CIN: Price ejected for arguing call on field

• In the eighth inning, Alcantara led off with a grounder played up the middle by Villar, who made a slick play and throw to first base and a fully-extended Aguilar. Alcantara was called out on the field, but the umpires opted for a crew review since the Reds already lost their challenge, and the ruling was overturned for an infield single.

Video: MIL@CIN: Alcantara called safe at first after review

WHAT'S NEXT
Brewers: Matt Garza will start for Milwaukee opposite the Marlins' Edinson Volquez in a matchup of veteran right-handers Friday at 7:10 p.m. CT at Miller Park. The game begins the Brewers' final homestand before the All-Star break, which includes six games against the Marlins and Orioles.

Reds: The homestand continues for Cincinnati with a three-game series vs. the Cubs, starting at 7:10 p.m. ET on Friday. Scott Feldman, who has a 3.68 ERA in five June starts, will take the mound for Cincinnati.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.