'A win's a win': Reds eke out dramatic victory over Brewers

June 15th, 2024

MILWAUKEE – The timing of this weekend's three-game series at Milwaukee serves as a good test of the Reds and their recent momentum. After all, the Brewers currently sit comfortably on top of the National League Central division.

Good thing it's a pass-fail sort of test with no points off for lack of perfection. The Reds have their first win of the series in hand with a 6-5 by-the-seat-of-their-pants victory Friday at American Family Field.

“A win’s a win. That’s all that matters," said center fielder , who had three hits, including a third-inning home run and a sixth-inning RBI single that proved to be the difference in the game. "Nine innings of just grinding a win out.”

Cincinnati (34-35) has won nine of its last 11 games and 14 of 19, inching its deficit to six games behind the Brewers (40-29) in the standings. The club defied plenty of logic to get this particular win.

• The Reds won despite committing five errors, a feat the club hasn't done since May 21, 1990, against the Cubs. The team's last five-error game of any kind was in 2008.

• Four of the errors came on a pair of two-error plays by Elly De La Cruz at shortstop in the fifth inning and Jeimer Candelario from third base in the sixth -- each resulting in runs scored. The last time two players committed multiple errors on the same play in the same MLB game was the White Sox vs. the Twins in 1988.

• Reds pitchers issued eight walks, including five by starting pitcher Hunter Greene over his five innings for the victory.

• Cincinnati survived a near-complete meltdown by closer Alexis Díaz in the ninth inning as the Brewers scored two runs. A replay review overturned what would have been the tying third run crossing.

"Like I always said, no matter how you get the W, you want the W," Candelario, who hit his 100th career homer and sixth blast of June in the fifth, said. "You’ve got to take care of the ball. You’ve got to play clean. You've got to make the play. We made adjustments. We tried to turn the page, inning by inning, playing the game nine innings. And thank God we got the W today for sure."

Greene came through during a big jam in the bottom of the fifth inning. A would-be inning-ending double play grounder from Willy Adames was muffed by De La Cruz for his first error as a run scored. A wild throw to first base accounted for the second error and gave Milwaukee runners on the corners.

Rhys Hoskins struck out looking at a slider before Greene got Sal Frelick to pop out to De La Cruz to end the inning. The right-hander let out a celebratory yell as he came off the field.

“I’ve never been so mentally drained after having to make two outs," said Greene, who gave up two earned runs and three hits. "I’m proud we were able to get out of that. We’re just trying to pick our guys up as much as possible in that inning.”

The lead was 6-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning when Díaz allowed singles to his first two batters. Another potential double play was wrecked when De La Cruz botched Hoskins' routine grounder for an error that loaded the bases. With one out, Joey Ortiz walked on five pitches to plate a run.

Jackson Chourio followed with a single to right field that scored Willy Adames. Right fielder Will Benson charged the ball and made the throw to the plate before catcher Tyler Stephenson dove to tag pinch-runner Jake Bauers. The umpire called Bauers safe, which briefly gave the Brewers the tying run.

The Reds challenged the call and replay reviews showed Stephenson got the tag on Bauers' hand in time to overturn the call.

“There was a lot going on," Stephenson said. "I tried to make the best play I could. I just got a little lucky with him sliding into the glove.”

With two outs, Blake Perkins inexplicably tried a squeeze bunt and popped out to Díaz to end the game.

Wait, what?

"It's unfortunate. It hurts," Brewers manager Pat Murphy said. "Not only for our team, but I'm hurting for him. Ill-advised decision."

Were the Reds surprised?

“Yes and no," Stephenson said. "It was actually funny. J.R. [House, the third base coach], in the dugout was like, ‘Maybe,’ just because he’s somebody that will and to get it up to [Brice] Turang at the top of the order. So there was a possibility there, yeah. Díaz made a catch and didn’t panic.”

It was just a straight-up survival mode win.

“They put a lot of pressure on you," Reds manager David Bell said of the Brewers. "We bent but didn’t break and guys came through.”