MILWAUKEE — With an eight-run lead against a struggling offense, the Cincinnati Reds appeared in control in the middle innings Friday night.
But the Milwaukee Brewers’ bats awoke late in the game, causing the Reds to have to fight off multiple rallies in order to hold on for an 11-10 victory.
“It was a grind to the end,” Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart said. “Even in the ninth, they chipped away at us. But we have one of the better closers in baseball out there and we were able to lock it down.”
The Reds built a 10-2 lead through four innings, but the Brewers scored seven times in the sixth to make it a game. A solo home run by Barnhart in the seventh increased Cincinnati’s lead to 11-9.
After stranding the bases loaded against Raisel Iglesias in the eighth, Jonathan Villar made it 11-10 with a home run off the Reds closer with one out in the ninth. Eric Thames followed with a single, but Iglesias retired Ryan Braun and struck out Travis Shaw to finish off his 20th save.
“I don’t know what words to use to express how much I admired the way our guys handled that,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “You have some of those each year when you get a big lead but the other team comes back and steals a game from you. That one reeked of Milwaukee coming back and stealing one from us.”
Reds starter Homer Bailey (4-6) bounced back from allowing 10 runs over 3 1/3 innings in a loss to St. Louis on Aug. 6 to hold the Brewers to two runs despite five walks in five innings.
Milwaukee has dropped six straight games and is 9-18 since the All-Star break. The Brewers had the tying run on base in the sixth, eighth and ninth innings but couldn’t complete the comeback.
Cozart connected for a solo home run off Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson in the top of the first. Manny Pina blasted a two-run shot off Bailey in the second to give the Brewers a 2-1 lead.
Cincinnati used five straight two-out hits to score six runs in the third.
Scooter Gennett dumped in a bloop single with the bases loaded to score two and give the Reds a 3-2 lead. Suarez followed with an RBI single and Jesse Winker then doubled in two runs.
Barnhart capped the inning with an infield single that Villar mishandled at second base, allowing Winker to score to make it 7-2.
Cozart and Suarez each hit run-scoring singles as part of a three-run fourth inning.
The first seven Brewers to bat in the sixth inning reached base and scored to pull Milwaukee within 10-9.
Thames connected for a three-run home run to make it 10-7. Milwaukee would add two more runs in the inning before Reds reliever Michael Lorenzen struck out Orlando Arcia with the tying run at third base.
“It was a heck of a comeback,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “It was a lot of fun. There was a lot of energy in it. We just fell a little short.”
Nelson (9-6) allowed a career-high nine earned runs and 11 hits in 3 2/3 innings.
Reds first baseman Joey Votto extended his hitting streak to 16 games with a single in the fourth inning. It is the longest active streak in the Major Leagues and the longest streak by a Red this season.
Votto reached base four times Friday to extend his run of reaching base at least twice to a career-best 16 games, the longest streak since Barry Bonds put together a run of getting on base safely at least twice in 20 consecutive games in 2004.
OLD SCHOOL CLOSER
Iglesias recorded his sixth save of at least two innings Friday, the most since Billy Koch and Derek Lowe each posted six multi-inning saves in 2000.
Reds: RHP Scott Feldman (right knee inflammation) will be activated from the disabled list to start against the Brewers on Saturday. Originally scheduled to start, RHP Tim Adleman will move into a long relief role.
Brewers: C Stephen Vogt (left knee strain) went hitless in four at-bats Friday in his first game of a rehab assignment with Class-A Wisconsin. Used as a designated hitter Friday, Vogt will catch a portion of Saturday’s game before serving as the designated hitter Sunday.
Reds: RHP Scott Feldman (7-7, 4.34 ERA) will make his first start since July 17 when he left after one inning due to right knee inflammation. The veteran has a 5.40 ERA in two starts against the Brewers this season.
Brewers: LHP Brent Suter (2-2, 3.31) will look to bounce back from two consecutive rough starts. The rookie is 2-1 with a 2.97 ERA in seven starts since taking the rotation spot of the injured Chase Anderson.