Yelich helps rally 1st-place Crew with 30th HR
All-Star outfielder's RBI single fuels key 5-run 7th vs. Reds
CINCINNATI -- Brewers manager Craig Counsell pronounced himself happy with the shape of his bullpen prior to his team opening a seven-day, seven-game road trip with the first of four against the Reds on Monday night.
Counsell probably was feeling downright giddy about it, even when the game was only half-over.
By then, right-hander Adrian Houser had gone a career-high five-plus innings and needed just the minimum three pitches -- all two-seam fastballs -- to get through the fifth. The sixth was another matter, as he gave up homers to Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suarez.
Milwaukee’s batters got Houser off the hook, sending 10 batters to the plate and knocking Cincinnati starter Tyler Mahle from the game in a five-run seventh inning -- with five players driving in a run -- on the way to a 8-6 win, the Brewers’ sixth straight at Great American Ball Park dating to a 3-1 loss on Sept. 18, 2018.
“Both starters through five were as good as they could be,” Counsell said. “There wasn’t much traffic. Houser’s sinker was working. He was getting a lot of ground-ball outs. He pitched really well.”
The Brewers have won 11 of its last 15 games against the Reds. Milwaukee holds a one-game lead over Chicago for first place in the National League Central with the Cubs’ 18-5 loss to the Pirates on Monday night.
Call it the cloud inside the silver lining. Houser couldn’t record an out in the sixth as Winker led off with a home run and Suarez followed a Joey Votto walk with a two-run shot to left, both on 85.6-mph sliders and giving the Reds a 3-1 lead.
Alex Claudio (2-2) and Corbin Burnes combined to retire six straight batters in relief of Houser. Josh Hader took over in the eighth and gave up his first hits and runs in his last nine appearances -- a Votto single and Suarez’s second homer of the game that made it 6-5.
Christian Yelich got the runs back with a two-run opposite-field homer that barely cleared the fence down the left-field line. His 30th homer of the season -- on a high, 96-mph four-seam fastball from Robert Stephenson -- snapped a tie with Prince Fielder for the most home runs by a Brewers hitter before the All-Star break.
“That pitch was up in his eyes,” Counsell said. “It was one of those towering fly balls that don’t usually go out. It’s a testament to how hard he hits the ball.”
“It was one of those weird ones,” Yelich said. “It wasn’t the best pitch to swing at, but that’s baseball. Sometimes, you do everything right and don’t get rewarded. Sometimes, you do everything wrong and hit a home run.”
Make that two milestones in two days for Yelich, who logged his 1,000th hit on Sunday.
“It’s cool,” Yelich said. “It’s hard to put it out of your mind. You’re constantly reminded about it by the fans and the media. It’s nice to get it out of the way.”
“He’s had a tremendous first half,” Counsell said. “I think he’ll tell you he’s been fighting himself a little bit, but he still came up with big hits tonight.”
Jeremy Jeffress overcame Phillip Ervin’s two-out RBI single in the ninth for his first save of 2019.
Lorenzo Cain started the pivotal seventh with his fifth home run of the season, followed by Eric Thames’ single that knocked Mahle from the game. Ben Gamel drove in the tying run with a double, his first of two in the game, off reliever David Hernandez. Yasmani Grandal drew a bases-loaded walk, Yelich followed with an RBI single and Mike Moustakas added a sacrifice fly.
Houser was making his fourth start of the season. He’d lasted four innings in his first and two in each of the next two, including Wednesday's against the Mariners.
“That one was a lot better,” Houser said of Monday’s effort. “I was more comfortable. I had fastball command. I attacked the zone and worked ahead. That was a step in the right direction, especially compared to the last one. It’s something to build on.”
Mahle, a right-hander who had a career-high 12 strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings of a 12-3 Reds win over the Brewers on June 30, 2018, held Milwaukee hitless with seven strikeouts through four innings before shortstop Keston Hiura led off the fifth with his sixth homer of the season and his first in exactly a month, since June 1 at Pittsburgh, on the eighth pitch of the at-bat.
The homers by Winker and Suarez, a two-run shot, gave the Reds a 3-1 lead.