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Harvey shuts down Brewers in rain-soaked win

Peraza's slam highlights 5-run 6th inning for Cincinnati
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- The only thing that slowed Matt Harvey's roll for the Reds on Sunday was a rain delay, which halted Harvey's best performance of the season during an 8-2 victory over the Brewers at Great American Ball Park.

In his 5 2/3 scoreless innings, Harvey gave up just two singles with no walks and six strikeouts. Out of his 68 pitches thrown, 47 were strikes. What pitches were working best for him?

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CINCINNATI -- The only thing that slowed Matt Harvey's roll for the Reds on Sunday was a rain delay, which halted Harvey's best performance of the season during an 8-2 victory over the Brewers at Great American Ball Park.

In his 5 2/3 scoreless innings, Harvey gave up just two singles with no walks and six strikeouts. Out of his 68 pitches thrown, 47 were strikes. What pitches were working best for him?

View Full Game Coverage

"I had them all today. They were all good," Harvey replied. "That's probably the best I've felt since 2013."

That's what made the interruption all the more unfortunate. His second hit allowed was a two-out single in the sixth by Brad Miller amid a downpour. That was the final pitch for the right-hander before a 54-minute rain delay paused the game.

Harvey turned to home-plate umpire Alfonso Marquez, hoping to get a good weather report and a short delay. He got neither, but he tried to throw in the indoor batting cage to stay loose anyway.

"I think once you creep around an hour, they made the call at that point once the time kept creeping up," Harvey said. "It was disappointing. That's the best I've felt in a long time. One of those where you kind of smell a [complete game] going or at least getting deep into the game. I was pretty much in control the whole time. Disappointing, but I'm happy about the outing and another Reds win."

Video: MIL@CIN: Harvey fans Villar for sixth strikeout

In 2013, Harvey posted a 2.27 ERA in 26 starts and made his only All-Star Game. Injuries have derailed him since then, and his struggles and off-the field clashes with management in '18 prompted a demotion to the bullpen and eventually forced the Mets to jettison him. In 18 games, including 14 starts, this season with the Reds and Mets, he is 4-5 with a 4.91 ERA. But in 10 starts for Cincinnati since his May 8 acquisition, he is 4-3 with a 3.86 ERA. Also, since that deal, the Reds have a 28-21 record.

Over his last three starts, Harvey is 3-0 with a 1.47 ERA -- numbers that can only improve the his chances of being dealt to a contender ahead of the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline since the 29-year-old can be a free agent after this season. It's the first time Harvey has won three consecutive starts since he won his first five games of the 2015 season for the Mets.

"I think he is just getting comfortable," catcher Tucker Barnhart said. "He continues to make pitches and sharpen up his mechanics, but really the pitch execution is what stands out. Continuing to develop a game plan between me and him and sticking to it no matter what lineup we are facing. Just going after guys from the jump and getting quick outs."

Harvey credits being healthy as the top reason for his success.

"It's nice to finally get into a groove, get into a rhythm," Harvey said. "Know I can get out of jams when I need to and also be able to go deep into games with consistent velocity and good stuff. When you start feeling healthy, the confidence comes back, for sure."

There were no jams on Sunday, as Harvey was perfect through his first four innings while throwing only 41 pitches. By contrast, Brewers starter Freddy Peralta needed 43 pitches just to get through the bottom of the first inning while facing nine batters.

Cincinnati's first six batters reached safely vs. Peralta with Joey Votto's RBI double lined to right field scoring Jose Peraza for the first run. Eugenio Suarez followed with a RBI single to right field that scored Tucker Barnhart, and Scott Schebler's RBI single to left field brought home Votto for a three-run lead.

Video: MIL@CIN: Votto lines an RBI double to right

Harvey gave up Travis Shaw's leadoff single in the fifth inning for his first baserunner but retired the rest of the side in order. He got a pair of routine groundball outs to begin the sixth until the rain stopped everything.

"Very disappointing. He was throwing the ball outstanding," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "The last hit he gave up, he really couldn't feel the ball. It was so slippery at that point. The umpires made a good call."

After play resumed, David Hernandez finished the inning Harvey started and retired his lone batter. The Reds' lineup solidified the lead with a five-run bottom of the sixth. Jesse Winker delivered a one-out pinch-hit RBI single, and two batters later came a grand slam from Peraza. With the game out of reach in the ninth, Ryan Braun hit a two-run homer against Reds closer Raisel Iglesias.

Video: MIL@CIN: Winker delivers with pinch-hit RBI single

Following back-to-back losses to Milwaukee, the Reds outscored the Brewers by a 20-5 margin to win the last two games and split the four-game series. They have won 11 of their last 14 games and 14 of the last 19. The last three series have been against contending clubs -- the Cubs, Braves and Brewers.

"I think everybody is feeding off each other the way we keep winning games and beating good teams," Harvey said. "I know we went 2-2 vs. these guys, but the last couple of series we've been playing really well. That's motivation to go out there and keep that rolling and do my part to go deep into games as much as possible and keep runs off of the board."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Another Reds grand slam: In the sixth inning that put the game away, Peraza connected on a 1-2 pitch from Aaron Wilkerson and lifted it into the left-field seats for the first grand slam of his career. It gave the Reds their Major League-leading ninth grand slam of the season, tying the 2002 club record. It was their sixth slam in the last 17 games.

"I hit the ball, see it in the sky and say, 'Wow,'" said Peraza, who just missed a homer in the first inning with a ground-rule double. He has three home runs in his last five games.

Video: MIL@CIN: Peraza drills a grand slam to left field

HE SAID IT
"It's Major League Baseball. You're still facing good lineups. You're facing No. 1 guys in their leagues, and you have to go out and do your job. All these guys have been awesome to me since I've got here. It's fun to see what we can do. Obviously, we've been showing a lot these last couple of weeks about how good we can be and how good we ought to be. Everybody is pulling for each other. It's really fun. It's been great." -- Harvey, on pitching in Cincinnati

UP NEXT
The Reds will remain at home Monday and open a three-game series vs. the White Sox at 7:10 p.m. ET. Luis Castillo will take the mound and try to start the new month right after a rough June, in which he posted a 6.75 ERA in five starts. Chicago counters with James Shields.

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.

Cincinnati Reds, Matt Harvey, Jose Peraza