CINCINNATI -- The Reds' lineup seems to have found some footing with two additions that didn't require a trade or a callup from the Minors. Since Eugenio Suarez and Scott Schebler were activated from their disabled list stints, both have provided a jolt to the offense.
Suarez provided two hits and four RBIs to twice give the Reds a lead, and Schebler collaborated with two hits and run. But Reds pitching couldn't make it hold up and Brewers closer Josh Hader held everybody down as Cincinnati was handed a 6-5 loss at Great American Ball Park.
"We were down twice in the game, came back and had some nice rallies and they just came and took it from us," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said.
It wasn't just two-out walks that hurt Reds reliever Wandy Peralta. It was two-out walks when Peralta was a strike away from getting out of the top of the seventh inning.
Cincinnati had taken a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Jose Peraza and two-run single by Suarez. Austin Brice delivered a scoreless sixth inning after starter Brandon Finnegan was pulled following 89 pitches over five innings.
Peralta was given the seventh and notched two flyouts with his first two batters. Then came trouble as Christian Yelich scorched a first-pitch single to center field.
"That's the guy we needed to get right there," Riggleman said.
On a 3-2 Peralta pitch, Ryan Braun drew a walk to put the tying run on first base. In a double steal as Travis Shaw batted, catcher Tucker Barnhart's throw to get Yelich at third base sailed into left field for a run-scoring error that put Braun on third base.
Shaw was down in a 1-2 count but Peralta couldn't put him away and gave up a walk. Right-hander Jared Hughes replaced the lefty and his first pitch to Domingo Santana was tattooed over center fielder Billy Hamilton's head for the two-run double that put the Brewers ahead.
"We've got to get one of the two left-handers out and we didn't," Riggleman said. "But you've got to give Yelich and Shaw credit. Wandy is a very tough left-hander to deal with, and they both got on."
The Reds could not come back again, especially after Brewers lefty reliever Josh Hader closed out the game with 2 2/3-scoreless-inning save and eight strikeouts. It was the first time in history that a pitcher struck out eight batters in less than three innings.
"Their closer there, Hader, that's quite a performance, so I don't think anybody was going hit him tonight," Riggleman said.
That left Cincinnati with a Major League-worst 7-22 record to end April.
"It's kind of frustrating because as everybody knows, we are in a pretty bad situation right now and a very difficult situation," Peralta said via translator Julio Morillo. "I know and believe in my team. We're going to get out of this and we're going to be better."
If the Reds can do that, the returns of Suarez and Schebler could be key. Since he was activated from the DL, recovered from a fractured right thumb that put him out for three weeks, Suarez is batting .364 (8-for-22) with seven RBIs.
"Right now I just try to do my job and help my team and drive a lot of RBIs in, put a good swing on balls and make good at-bats. That's it," Suarez said.
Schebler is enjoying a six-game hitting streak and is batting .316 (12-for-38) in 10 games since returning from an ulnar nerve contusion in his right elbow. But Joey Votto and Peraza have also heated up considerably.
In the bottom of the fourth, Votto started a rally when he was hit by a pitch from Jhoulys Chacin and Schebler's double set up Suarez as he scorched a two-run double to the left-field corner for a 2-1 Reds lead. But Finnegan allowed a two-run homer to Lorenzo Cain out to center field in the top of the fifth to erase the advantage.
"It was good at-bats. Suarez and Schebler, they're good ballplayers. Joey speaks for himself being part of the rally, as usual," Riggleman said. "A disappointing loss. We hate to lose once we got the lead."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Finnegan pulled after five: Finnegan gave up three earned runs, five hits and three walks with two strikeouts over his five innings. Besides Cain's long ball, he also gave up Manny Pina's solo homer in the fourth inning. Riggleman decided to make the move for the bullpen to begin the sixth, which surprised Finnegan.
"I felt fine. I didn't really have any taxing innings, I thought, besides the [two-walks, 20-pitch] first," said Finnegan. "I got through it easily after the first couple of batters, but it's not my call. I just have to keep grinding and keep pitching forward."
"Ninety pitches isn't much but five innings, it is a lot," Riggleman said. "The word that's used now is 'stress' innings. It was kind of a stressful 90 pitches. Danny Darwin and I felt that he was a little gassed. I very much considered sending him back out there, and Danny said 'I think he's had enough.' It was a good decision. Brice went out [and] put up a zero for us."
HE SAID IT
"I definitely didn't have my best stuff, but I'm learning to pitch with it. When I start getting my best stuff back, that means I'll be better." -- Finnegan, who has a 7.27 ERA in four starts after opening the season on the DL.
Homer Bailey (0-3, 4.19) is winless, and the Reds haven't won a game in any of his six starts this season. They will try to change that trajectory when the series continues vs. the Brewers at 7:10 p.m. ET Tuesday. Reds batters have scored 12 runs in his six starts, including only six runs while he's actually in the game. Right-hander Chase Anderson is scheduled to start for Milwaukee.