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Reds capitalize with 8-run 7th after Mahle shines

Rookie records 12 strikeouts, part of club-record 18 recorded by pitching staff
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- Twelve runs from the offense, and a club-record 18 strikeouts by the pitching staff added up to a very complete victory for the Reds over the Brewers. But it didn't feel that way for much of what wound up to be a resounding 12-3 win Saturday over Milwaukee at Great American Ball Park.

Tyler Mahle had 12 of those strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings, but the two unearned runs he gave up in the top of the sixth left him trailing by a 3-1 score. In the both the fifth and sixth innings, the Reds had the bases loaded with no outs and scored just one run each time. Then, Michael Lorenzen happened.

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CINCINNATI -- Twelve runs from the offense, and a club-record 18 strikeouts by the pitching staff added up to a very complete victory for the Reds over the Brewers. But it didn't feel that way for much of what wound up to be a resounding 12-3 win Saturday over Milwaukee at Great American Ball Park.

Tyler Mahle had 12 of those strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings, but the two unearned runs he gave up in the top of the sixth left him trailing by a 3-1 score. In the both the fifth and sixth innings, the Reds had the bases loaded with no outs and scored just one run each time. Then, Michael Lorenzen happened.

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Lorenzen, a reliever who doubles as a pinch-hitter on days he doesn't pitch, slugged a grand slam to cap the eight-run bottom of the seventh inning that turned a tight game into a blowout.

Video: Must C Classic: Lorenzen homers in 3rd straight AB

"We played pretty good baseball, and it was nice to see our offense explode in the later part of the game, because we were getting guys on base all game and putting together really good at-bats," said Lorenzen, who has home runs in each of his last three at-bats -- all in the past six days. "It is nice to get some momentum going into tomorrow to try to split the series."

For a while, it seemed like Mahle was doing it all himself, with 12 of his 17 outs being recorded as strikeouts -- a career high. He allowed three runs -- one earned -- on five hits and three walks.

Video: MIL@CIN: Mahle fans 12 hitters in 5 2/3 innings

But Mahle would settle in after allowing a homer to Eric Thames in the first, and went on to a stretch where he retired 11 of 12 batters. That included striking out the side in the top of the third inning. In the fifth inning, Thames was intentionally walked to load the bases with one out. How did Mahle get out of the jam? With strikeouts, of course.

"When you're getting swings and misses, especially on my slider, I was really happy to see that," said Mahle, who has a 2.18 ERA over his last five starts. "My fastball command was really good through the first five. I was ecstatic about the way that went."

Jesus Aguilar struck out for the third time in the game, this time on a 0-2 slider. Travis Shaw worked a full count, but looked at a 97-mph fastball for strike three.

Video: MIL@CIN: Mahle's 12th K leaves strands bases loaded

"I think that's the best performance I've seen from anybody this year," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "If you think about it, it's not a quality start. That's a little ridiculous. That was impressive. [Mahle] was just really good. He threw everywhere from 89-96 [mph], and added and subtracted with his fastball. His breaking ball got better as the game went on. Just a fine, composed young pitcher."

The Reds scored their first run against Jhoulys Chacin in the fifth, and Mahle returned to the mound for the sixth, but ran into misfortune. A routine grounder by Hernan Perez was bobbled by third baseman Eugenio Suarez for an error. Jonathan Villar immediately drove him in with a RBI double, and he scored from third base on Erik Kratz's one-out grounder to second base.

Video: MIL@CIN: Schebler hits a sac fly to tie the game at 1

"I made some really bad pitches when [the team] needed me to go out and have a shutout inning. It's hard to be mad about that because we won, and it was such a great game," Mahle said. "But that's definitely going to haunt me the rest of the day."

In the bottom of the seventh, relievers Taylor Williams and Mike Zagurski combined to face eight batters without retiring anybody. Scooter Gennett's drive to left field was misread by Thames and went over his head for an RBI double that made it a 3-3 game. With the bases loaded two batters later, Jesse Winker provided the go-ahead run with a single punched into left field. Adam Duvall provided some cushion with a two-run single.

Video: MIL@CIN: Gennett ties the game with an RBI double

Jacob Barnes came on the face Lorenzen with the bases loaded once again. Lorenzen hit a 1-0 fastball up and in from Barnes and powered it into the left-field seats for the grand slam -- also his fifth career homer.

"There was a lot of great at-bats," Riggleman said. "Lorenzen was pretty special."

Following the big seventh inning by the Reds, Kratz took off the catcher's gear and pitched to save Milwaukee's shorthanded bullpen. He gave up two runs. Following losses in the first two games of the series, the Reds can gain a four-game series split with another win on Sunday.

Video: MIL@CIN: Duvall hits an RBI single in the 8th

"We were kind of squeaking by for six innings there, then we put ourselves in a pretty good spot," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "But give them credit -- they kept swinging the bats, and kept coming at us."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Thames burns Reds, again: When Thames took Mahle deep to right field in the first inning, it was his 14th career homer vs. the Reds in 22 career games -- all over the past two seasons. The Brewers' slugger hit a solo shot on a 1-2 pitch.

Duvall puts Reds ahead: In the pivotal seventh, Suarez was intentionally walked to load the bases with no outs, and Barnes was summoned to replace Zagurski. Duvall got a 1-0 cutter and was able to slash the ball into left field for the two-run single that made it a three-run game.

Video: MIL@CIN: Duvall lines a 2-run single to left field

"We put up a big inning there to come back to take a comfortable lead. That was nice," Duvall said.

SOUND SMART
The Reds pitching staff recorded 18 strikeouts and broke the old club record of 17 for a nine-inning game. That had been done four times in franchise history, most recently on June 18, 2013, vs. the Pirates.

HE SAID IT
"I had a lot of confidence that they would. They always do. That's why it hurt so bad, when we put up a run in a tight ballgame and then I go out and give up a run. That's one of my pet peeves." -- Mahle, on the lineup backing him up after his departure

UP NEXT
Coming off of one of his best starts, Matt Harvey will get the ball for the Reds when they wrap up the series vs. the Brewers at 1:10 p.m. ET Sunday at Great American Ball Park. Harvey gave up one earned run and six hits over 6 2/3 innings on Tuesday for a 5-3 win over the Braves. He is 0-2 with a 5.63 ERA vs. Milwaukee lifetime, and allowed four earned runs on April 14 for the Mets in a 5-1 defeat. Freddy Peralta will make the start for the Brewers.

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, Tyler Mahle