CINCINNATI — Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell is concerned that some of his Brewers are playing as if the season is already over.
Joey Votto homered and drove in two runs, Dan Straily pitched a career-high eight innings and the Cincinnati Reds took advantage of some sloppy Milwaukee fielding for a 6-4 win Tuesday night, their fifth straight victory.
The Brewers committed two errors, leading to four unearned runs.
“We were sloppy again defensively tonight,” Counsell said. “Frankly, it’s unacceptable. It’s time for us to finish the season. It’s 162 games, and it’s not over. There’s still time for guys to make an impression. These are important games for those guys.”
Adam Duvall put the Reds ahead for good in the third with the first of his two doubles. The Reds went on to match their longest winning streak of the season.
Straily (12-8) pitched around solo home runs by Keon Broxton and Jonathan Villar to improve to 8-2 since the All-Star break. He allowed three hits and two runs with one walk and eight strikeouts and piled up 14 popup or flyball outs.
“He’s pitching like he does,” Counsell said. “His fastball is all guts and deception and creates a lot of flyballs. With the number of flyballs he gets, you’ve got to get them out of the ballpark, especially with runners on base.”
Tony Cingrani pitched the ninth, allowing Chris Carter’s 34th homer, a two-run shot. Carter just missed hitting a three-run homer in the sixth, reaching the warning track with two outs.
Matt Garza (5-7) allowed five runs, only one earned, in five innings as the Brewers lost for the fourth time in five games.
Votto’s solo home run in the first inning was his 24th of the season. He has 28 homers and 91 RBIs against the Brewers in his career, his top totals versus one opponent.
Milwaukee, which went into the game with the major leagues’ worst fielding percentage, committed errors on Cincinnati’s first two batters of the third. Garza hit Eugenio Suarez with one out to load the bases and Votto tied it at 2 with a single before Duvall hit a two-run double.
“We made it very hard on Matt,” Counsell said. “He had to get five outs and get through Votto. Those plays bring up the part of the lineup you don’t want to face.”
Brandon Phillips then hit a fly ball to right-center field that Kirk Niewenhuis caught while being jostled by Broxton, the center fielder.
“You just have to pitch,” Garza said. “Some days the balls find gloves. Some days, they don’t. We’re a young team and that’s where we’re at. I’ve learned that you can’t come down on guys and harp on it. For a lot of these guys, this is their first September.”
Votto scored on the sacrifice fly, but Duvall was thrown out at the plate trying to take advantage of the mini-collision and score from second.
Former University of Louisville and Denver Broncos linebacker Tom Jackson, who recently retired after 29 years as an ESPN NFL analyst, threw a ceremonial first pitch. Jackson is a long-time Cincinnati area resident.
Brewers catcher Manny Pina and Reds infielder Hernan Iribarren, a former Brewer, competed to see who could stand with their caps over their hearts the longest after the national anthem. Pina cracked first, with less than a minute before the game started.
Counsell gave Villar his first start as a Brewer at second base. Villar played three games at second base for Houston last season. “I’ve been thinking about moving him to second base the last three weeks,” Counsell said. “It is an opportunity to see what it looks like. You will see him mostly at third base the rest of the season.”
Brewers: RHP Michael Blazek is scheduled to throw a simulated game in Chicago on Thursday after throwing one on Monday. Blazek hasn’t pitched in a game since Aug. 13 after suffering a right forearm strain.
Reds: RHP Homer Bailey, who hasn’t pitched since Aug. 28 because of right biceps soreness, threw a 44-pitch bullpen session. He is tentatively scheduled for another session on Friday.
Brewers: RHP Junior Guerra (8-3) makes his third start since coming off the disabled list on September 1. He progressed from 3 1/3 innings in his first start to five in his next outing.
Reds: RHP Tim Adleman (2-3), who notched his first major league win on May 6 against the Brewers, is Cincinnati’s scheduled starter on Wednesday.