Baseball / Sports

Peralta, the 2-way player, bears the load on the mound and delivers the blow at the plate

CINCINNATI -- Wily Peralta took the Milwaukee Brewers onto his burly shoulders Friday night.

The right-hander not only turned in a dominant eight-inning start against the Cincinnati Reds, but he also delivered the game's only runs with a clutch two-out double to key a 2-0 Brewers victory at Great American Ball Park.

"I really don't think we needed anybody else out there -- he did everything," said catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who accounted for three of the Brewers' seven hits. "It was pretty impressive. He was fighting and battling the whole time, and he did a great job.

"He didn't let up at all."

Peralta improved to 4-1 and gave Milwaukee its 24th quality start in limiting the Reds to just three hits and two walks while striking out a season-high seven. He's now tied with Sunday's starter, Kyle Lohse, for the team lead in victories.

"Great fastball, commanded it well. Slider was outstanding," said manager Ron Roenicke. "Threw a couple changeups. Not many, but those were good. And his swing -- he's driving the ball every game.

"Great swing, and we certainly needed it."

Peralta labored through a 24-pitch first inning but emerged unscathed by finally striking out Jay Bruce -- one of four punch-outs by the Reds' rightfielder on the night. Last year at this time, Peralta might have let his early struggles affect him.

But not on this night. He battled through the few adverse situations he encountered from that point on and got the Brewers to the ninth inning, and closer Francisco Rodriguez took over from there.

That's exactly the kind of development -- mental and emotional -- that the Brewers want to continue seeing from their 24-year-old horse.

"That first inning is a struggle for most starters, usually," Roenicke said. "With Wily, it's always getting that feel and that command, then the next couple innings you can tell what he's going to be like.

"You could see his confidence growing every inning. And once he drove that ball and scored a couple, it looked even better from there."

Peralta didn't allow a second base-runner until the fourth, when Joey Votto led off with a drive to left that bounced off the top of the fence and back onto the field.

Votto was ruled to have doubled, which was confirmed in a 1-minute 25-second review called for by crew chief Jerry Layne. That turned out to be big, too, as Peralta buckled down to strand Votto at second base.

Peralta then helped himself out in a big way in the fifth with the bat.

Lyle Overbay led off with a single and Caleb Gindl -- recalled in the afternoon from Class AAA Nashville -- walked. Jean Segura grounded into a fielder's choice for the second out to bring up Peralta, who boomed a double to right off Reds starter Mike Leake to plate both runners and give himself a 2-0 lead.

They were the first two career RBI for Peralta, who regularly puts on shows in pregame by booming long home runs off the scoreboard at Miller Park to the delight of his fellow starters.

From there, Peralta got stronger with each successive inning.

He issued a walk in the bottom of the fifth and a Segura throwing error put two on with two outs, but Peralta got out of the inning by getting Chris Heisey to ground out to second.

Peralta allowed just one hit -- a sixth-inning double by Todd Frazier -- the rest of the way before making way for Rodriguez. He was still throwing 96 mph in that final inning.

"When you're able to pitch like that and swing the bat, sometimes that's what you need to win a ball game," said Peralta. "(Leake) was throwing the ball well, he threw me a fastball down the middle and I was able to put a good swing on it and score a couple runs."

Peralta threw 110 pitches and had given enough to that point to persuade Roenicke not to give him a chance at the first complete game of the season for the Brewers.

"Not when the pitch count gets up to that point," he said.

Rodriguez retired the Reds in order in the ninth to notch his National League-leading 14th save and 318th of his career, tying him with Rick Aguilera for 17th on the all-time list.

(c)2014 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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