Cincinnati Reds starter Hunter Greene made the appropriate adjustments Tuesday night to keep the Milwaukee Brewers from playing Home Run Derby.
After giving up three home runs in the first inning to the Brewers last week in Milwaukee and five homers in 2 2/3 innings, mostly on fastballs, the young rookie resorted to a sharp slider this time.
It was extremely effective, but unfortunately for the Reds the offense couldn’t solve Milwaukee starter Freddie Peralta and lost, 5-4.
Despite his strongest showing this season,
Greene was pinned with his fifth straight loss, mostly due to the failure of the Cincinnati bullpen. In 5 1/3 innings, Greene gave up two runs (only one while he was on the mound), four hits, walked four, struck out six and gave up one home run.
The loss ended Cincinnati’s two-game winning streak and concluded first-place Milwaukee’s three-game losing skid.
Instead of giving up home runs in the first, Greene walked three batters, including the first two to open the game. He walked a third batter with two outs and escaped by striking out Tyron Taylor.
The Reds took a 1-0 lead in the second on doubles by Mike Moustakas and Tyler Stephenson with no outs, but Colin Moran and Tyler Naquin struck out and Kyle Farmer popped out.
After the first, Greene settled in until he hung a breaking pitch to open the fourth and Luis Urias dropped it into the first row of the left-field seats. It was the 11th home run given up by Greene, most in the majors.
Peralta hit both T.J. Friedl and Brandon Drury with one out in the third, but both runners were stranded when Tommy Pham struck out.
Greene started the sixth inning and retired the first batter. Greene’s 100th pitch was a single off his glove by Jace Peterson and Greene’s night was over.
Manager David Bell brought in Tony Santillan to protect the 1-1 tie, but he was ripped for a run-scoring double by Lorenzo Cain to make it 2-1. The run was charged to Greene, making him the loser.
And the Brewers added a run on a sacrifice fly by Kolten Wong,
The Milwaukee bullpen did what the Reds bullpen couldn’t do in the Reds’ sixth. The Reds put two on with two outs and Brewers’ manager Craig Counsell replaced Peralta with Brent Suter.
The left-handed Moeller High School product struck out Moran to strand both runners.
What any team does not want to do is trail the Brewers in the final three innings. In order, Counsell uses Brad Boxberger (former No. 1 Reds draft pick), Devin Williams and Josh Hader and that trio is nearly invincible.
It became academic in the eighth when the Brewers scored two runs off Hunter Strickland on a run-scoring single by No. 9 hitter Victor Caratini and a run-scoring infield hit by Wong to make it 5-1.
Boxberger pitched a 1-2-3 seventh but the Reds destroyed Williams in the eighth. Williams walked two batters on full counts with one out and Mike Moustakas singled on a full count to fill the bases.
Stephenson struck out on three pitches, taking a called strike three on a change-up. Moran, who hit a grand slam against Pittsburgh over the weekend and owns five career grand slams, walked on four pitches to force in a run.
That brought up Tyler Naquin, owner of a .444 career batting average with the bases loaded. Naquin ripped a 2-and-2 pitch into the right field corner for two runs, cutting Milwaukee’s advantage to 5-4 with runners on third and second.
That forced Counsell to remove Williams and bring in Luis Perdomo for only his second appearance for the Brewers this season. Kyle Farmer lobbed one to shallow center and shortstop Urias made a diving catch off the grass tops to end the uprising and leave the Brewers on top, 5-4.
That gave the Reds the major challenge of facing Hader, the left-handed closer with the long flowing hair. He had appeared in 11 games and recorded 11 saves with a 0.00 earned run average. In 10 1/3 innings he had given up two hits, walked four and struck out 16.
The last time he blew a save was July 11, 2021 … against the Cincinnati Reds.
He walked Matt Reynolds on five pitches to put the tying run on base with no outs. Alejo Lopez flied to center. Brandon Drury struck out. Pham struck out and Hader is 12 for 12.
The Reds were 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight runners.