McCoy: Unlikely home run leads Brewers past Reds

Jesse Winker hit a home run Saturday afternoon in Great American Ball Park, his fourth homer in two days.

That was expected.

Milwaukee’s Daniel Robertson hit a home run, too.

That was not only unexpected, it was shocking.

His home run leading off the seventh inning proved to be the deciding and winning run, a 4-3 victory for the Brewers over the Cincinnati Reds.

And why was Robertson’s home so stunningly eventful?

He didn’t start the game. He was part of a double switch earlier in the game. And when he came to the plate he was hitting .103 with no RBI this season.

It came off the first pitch offered by Reds relief pitcher Heath Hembree. It narrowly cleared the top of the center field wall, nearly clipped the glove of center fielder Scott Heineman.

“I’m really upset about that one because I should have had it,” said Heineman, who looked shocked when he looked in his glove and the ball wasn’t there. “I thought I had it, I don’t know how I didn’t get it.

“I haven’t looked at the replay yet because I’m still bummed about it,” he added. “I wanted to take that one back. For me, taking one back is cooler than hitting one.”

Heineman did that, too. He hit a two-out home run leading off the third, tying the game, 1-1.

Milwaukee, which had lost 13 of its last 17 games, had taken a 1-0 lead in the top of the third. Luis Urias, batting .133 hit a home run off Sonny Gray with one out in the third. That home run came after Gray struck out five straight Brewers.

After Heineman tied it leading off the third, Winker planted one deep in the right field seats with two outs in the third, giving the Reds a 2-1 lead.

Then came a bizarre turn of events in the sixth inning. Gray gave up a double to Omar Narvaez and a walk to Avawail Garcia.

That put two on with two outs, but Gray retired the next two. With Willy Adames batting, Gray’s pitch bounced in the dirt and hit umpire Ron Kulpa in the chin.

Kulpa was down for a lengthy period, attended to on the field, then was helped back to the clubhouse. The delay was 12 minutes.

count was 2-and-0 on Adames.

Gray threw two qu8ck balls for a walk that filled the bases. Manager David Bell came to the mound for a quick consultation to check on Gray’s welfare. He permitted hm I ato stay in.

“I should have taken it out of Sonny’s hands,” said Bell. We’ve had those discussions before and I trust him. A lot of times he will be completely honest with me, and he was. After that delay with Ron Kulpa getting hit, at that point it was asking just a little too much, even as much as we believe in Sonny Gray and trust him.

“At that point I should have taken it out of his hands,” Bell added. “We had Amir Garrett ready to go.”

The next hitter after Bell’s mound visit was Jackie Bradley Jr., owner of a .090 average with runners in scoring position. He roped one at first baseman Alex Blandino. It ripped off his shoulder and ricocheted into foul territory.

While Blandino tried to find it, Gray raced over to pick it up but two runs scored for a 3-2 Miwaukee lead.

The Reds tied it, 3-3, in the bottom of the sixth on a double by Nick Castellanosw and a single by Tyler Naquin.

But Robertson’s surprise home run of Hembree in the top of the seventh finished off the Reds.

Devin Williams, last year’s National League Rookie of the Year, struck out the side in the eighth, the top of the order — Winker, Castellanos and Stephenson.

Closer Josh Hader pitched a 1-2-3 ninth with two more strikeouts for his 10th save and 14th straight dating back to last season.

Gray, still winless, pitched six innings and gave up three runs, five hits, walked four and struck out eight, including five straight.

Asked to assess his performance, Gray paused for 10 seconds, the said, “Average. Just average. Too many walks. They always come back to bit you at some point. Just average.”

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