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Reds unravel after Romano's gritty performance

Misplayed rundown, five-run ninth seal Cincinnati's fate vs. Brewers
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- On a hot and muggy Friday evening at Great American Ball Park, Reds pitcher Sal Romano had to grind and labor each inning to get three outs against the Brewers. And interim manager Jim Riggleman didn't like that very much.

Romano still kept his team in the game during an 8-2 loss to Milwaukee. When he left after five innings, Cincinnati trailed by a 2-0 score. He gave up seven hits, two walks and hit a batter while striking out five.

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CINCINNATI -- On a hot and muggy Friday evening at Great American Ball Park, Reds pitcher Sal Romano had to grind and labor each inning to get three outs against the Brewers. And interim manager Jim Riggleman didn't like that very much.

Romano still kept his team in the game during an 8-2 loss to Milwaukee. When he left after five innings, Cincinnati trailed by a 2-0 score. He gave up seven hits, two walks and hit a batter while striking out five.

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"I don't draw much positive out of that tonight. Sal is better than that," Riggleman said. "He faced 25 hitters in five innings. That's not going to cut it. He's better than that. He's thrown better than that lately. Tonight he was a little bit all over the place. It felt like it was 5-0, and it was only 2-0. That was not a positive outing."

Video: MIL@CIN: Riggleman discusses Romano's outing in loss

The difference in the entire game was Brewers center fielder Keon Broxton, who was recalled from Triple-A earlier this week. Broxton had two home runs, four RBIs and scored a run during a botched rundown in the eighth inning.

Romano was certainly foiled by Broxton, too. The top of the second inning opened with three straight singles -- with Broxton's RBI hit scoring Ryan Braun with the game's first run. Romano already had thrown 38 pitches through two innings, and finished with 84.

Broxton led off the fourth inning by hitting a first-pitch fastball up and over the plate for his first homer of the season.

In the top of the fifth inning, with the bases loaded and two outs, Romano was fortunate that a 3-0 pitch to Broxton was called a strike -- despite it appearing to be out of the strike zone. On a 3-1 pitch, Romano got Broxton to ground into a fielder's-choice play at shortstop.

That was a reason that Romano had a different view of his start than Riggleman.

"I didn't let it implode," Romano said. "Besides the home run I gave up, I didn't really give up the big hit, which I've had problems with in the past -- letting the game get out of hand. When you leave the game down 2-0 with the offense we have, you've got a pretty good shot to win. It wasn't like that tonight. It happens."

Romano is 4-8 with a 5.30 ERA in his 17 starts this season. He finished June with a 3.90 ERA in five starts, including tying a career high with eight innings pitched in a no-decision in Kansas City, and he followed that up with seven scoreless innings in a win against Detroit. But he gave up five earned runs and eight hits over five innings in his previous start vs. the Cubs.

For his brief career, Romano is 0-5 in five starts vs. Milwaukee.

"It's one of those games where you have to battle through," Romano said. "I had to battle every inning."

Milwaukee blew the game open in the top of the ninth when a two-out rally of five straight hits against Kyle Crockett and Jackson Stephens scored five runs. Broxton's second homer of the game was against Stephens and capped the scoring.

After they came into the four-game series winners of nine of the previous 10 games and 12 of 15, the Reds' momentum has been stymied twice in a row by the Brewers. They are 1-7 vs. Milwaukee this season.

"We've got to play better," Riggleman said. "Their pitching has stifled us a little bit the last couple of days. We've just got to turn it back on. We didn't pitch good tonight. Somehow, we were only down 2-1. We're just going to have to crank it up again with the bats."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Lorenzen goes deep, again: Brewers starter Chase Anderson had given up one hit and had faced the minimum number of hitters until one out in the sixth. That's when Reds reliever Michael Lorenzen slugged a 2-2 fastball for a home run to left field that made it a 2-1 game. It was Lorenzen's second homer of the season -- and second this week -- and the fourth of his career.

Video: MIL@CIN: Lorenzen helps own cause with a solo homer

"He threw me a little bit of everything, changeup, curveball and a fastball," Lorenzen said. "I was just trying to get a fastball to be able to drive somewhere."

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Lorenzen, who pitched three innings in relief of Romano, hit Manny Pina to begin the eighth and followed with a walk to Broxton that led to a pivotal third Brewers run. One pitch after a one-out double steal with pinch-hitter Jonathan Villar at the plate, Broxton was spotted drifting too far from third base and drew a throw from catcher Tucker Barnhart. Despite falling during the rundown, Broxton got back safely to third base as shortstop Jose Peraza wasn't ready for another throw. Pina scampered back to second base amid the mayhem and was thrown out, but that allowed Broxton to break for home and score with a headfirst slide.

Video: MIL@CIN: Broxton scores after escaping rundown

"You know what? That play, I take full responsibility for that play," Riggleman said. "I'm the manager of the club. When we do not execute a rundown correctly, which has happened to us a couple of times, that's on the manager to make sure it doesn't happen -- and it did happen."

HE SAID IT
"I don't want to get into specifics of it. What's supposed to happen is I'm supposed to make it more clear to them what they're supposed to do there. We will do that." -- Riggleman, responding when asked what went wrong during the crucial rundown

UP NEXT
Tyler Mahle is on a roll for the Reds this month, going 3-0 with a 2.30 ERA in his last four starts. Mahle will try to keep that going when the series vs. the Brewers continues at 4:10 p.m. ET Saturday at Great American Ball Park. Jhoulys Chacin will start for the Brewers. In his lone 2018 start vs. Milwaukee, the 23-year-old Mahle allowed two earned runs and seven hits over five innings during a 3-1 loss at Miller Park.

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, Sal Romano