Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price deployed the same starting lineup, except for the pitcher, for a season-high third consecutive game on Saturday night.
For the third consecutive night, the lineup produced near-instant offense – but this time, the Reds bullpen couldn’t make it stand up.
Aaron Hill tied Milwaukee franchise records and set career highs with three home runs and seven runs batted in, including a 10th-inning grand slam that helped lift the Brewers to a 13-7 win that snapped Cincinnati’s win streak at three games.
Caleb Cotham (0-2) was the victim, yielding three hits – including two infield singles – before Hill’s second career grand-slam.
Price didn’t want to use Cotham, who pitched two innings on Friday, but the manager’s options were limited because left-hander Tony Cingrani and right-hander Blake Wood needed rest.
“I can’t go to the well every day with the same guys,” Price said. “I didn’t want to use Cotham, but I wanted to take one shot with him. It didn’t work out.”
The Reds, who had scored a combined 18 runs in the first three innings of their previous three games, added four, including Brandon Phillips third-inning solo home run, giving him homers in a career-high four straight games.
Phillips added a solo homer in the 10th.
“He’s something to watch,” Price said. “He’s been working real hard to stay on the ball. He’s not just hitting mistakes, either. He’s hitting good pitches.”
Phillips’ fifth homer of the season was a high-arcing drive to left field that barely cleared the wall and prompted a one-minute, 25-second review that confirmed the call.
Adam Duvall collected two hits to extend his hitting streak to five games as the Reds were scoring six runs overall and five earned against Milwaukee starter Jimmy Nelson, the most he’d allowed this season.
Even pitcher Brandon Finnegan got in on the act with a two-out, run-producing single to left in the two-run second inning, snapping a 0-for-36 slump by Reds’ pitchers that dated back to Finnegan’s double and single on April 16 at St. Louis.
Finnegan was roughed up by solo homers from Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy and a two-run shot by Hill that knocked him out of the game three batters into the sixth. He said his hamstring, which forced him out of his last start after six innings, wasn’t an issue.
“I didn’t have my best stuff,” Finnegan said. “I tried to battle through with what I had.”
He wasn’t helped by his defense. Catcher Tucker Barnhart and Phillips both committed an error that made two of the five runs allowed by Finnegan unearned.
The Brewers tied the game on Hill’s second homer, a solo shot off reliever J.C. Ramirez in the eighth.
Billy Hamilton again showed how he doesn’t have to do much to be dangerous while pestering the Brewers into a first-inning run. After drawing a one-out walk, he stole second. Joey Votto struck out looking, but Hamilton stole third and catcher Jonathan Lucroy’s throw got through late-arriving third baseman Hernan Perez, allowing Hamilton to scamper home for a 1-0 lead.
Hamilton showed off his blazing speed again in the fifth, scoring from first base on Votto’s single to left-center field and forcing another Brewers’ error. Hamilton, running on the pitch, scored with a headfirst slide to increase the Reds’ lead to 6-2, thrilling the crowd of 27,567. Votto went to second when the ball slipped out of Nelson’s hand for an error.
The Reds announced after the game that outfielder Scott Schebler was being optioned to Triple-A Louisville and that outfielder Kyle Waldrop would be promoted before Sunday’s game.