The Milwaukee Brewers were the perfect foil for the Cincinnati Reds to scramble off their posteriors and get back on their feet.
When Monday night’s game began in Miller Park, the Brewers were 2-10, had scored only 30 runs for the season (2.5 runs per game) and hit only three home runs.
The Reds arrived in Milwaukee lugging a four-game losing streak and seven losses in their previous eight games
And it played out perfectly for the Reds, a 6-1 victory behind the precise deliveries of pitcher Anthony DeSclafani and a timely swing of the bat from shortstop Zack Cozart.
DeSclafani, acquired from the Miami Marlins in the offseason for Mat Latos — which might be the steal of the decade — pitched an eight-inning, two-hit shutout and had the Brewers scuffing baseballs with ground balls all night.
He walked one and struck out five and his only problem surfaced in the fifth inning, by not of his own doing. With one out, first baseman Joey Votto dropped a throw for an error and Hector Gomez singled to left, putting runners on first and second with one out.
Pitcher Wily Peralta tried to bunt with both runners moving on the pitch. Peralta popped up the bunt and catcher Brayan Pena made a diving catch, then threw to first for an inning-ending double play.
DeSclafani threw first-pitch strikes to 20 of the first 21 Brewers hitters and held them off at the pass until the Reds could crank up some missing-in-action offense.
DeSclafani now has 15 straight scoreless innings, and while it is early, he looks as if he might become the team’s No. 1 pitcher if Johnny Cueto is traded before the season ends or leaves via free agency after the season. The big right-hander, called ‘Disco’ by his teammates, pitched seven shutout innings in his previous start in Chicago.
The Reds’ offense finally surfaced in the sixth after they did nothing for five innings against Milwaukee starter Wily Peralta.
Votto led the sixth with a single, Todd Frazier walked and Jay Bruce singled to fill the bases with no outs.
Marlon Byrd forced Votto at home on a grounder to third and when Brayan Pena hit a sacrifice fly for a 1-0 lead it looked as though a big rally would fizzle with only one run.
Cozart took care of that. After fouling off two 1-and-2 pitches, Cozart torched one deep into the left field seats, a three-run home run.
And the Reds didn’t stop there. Billy Hamilton led the seventh with a triple to center and Votto launched an opposite-field home run to left field, his fifth home run and 12th RBI, to give the Reds a 6-0 lead.
Votto, clearly the 2010 vintage Votto so far this season, had a homer, single and a walk as the Reds piled on against the defenseless Brewers.
Burke Badenhop took over in the ninth for DeSclafani and the shutout disappeared when Ryan Braun hit a one-out home run, his first of the season.