MILWAUKEE -- Ryan Braun long has had a flair for dramatic at-bats, and that includes those that snap him out of a slump.
Braun crushed a two-run, opposite-field homer in the eighth inning Saturday night to provide the decisive runs as the Milwaukee Brewers pulled out a 4-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds at Miller Park.
Before that big at-bat off Reds reliever J.J. Hoover, Braun had only seven hits in his last 43 at-bats (.163). But he showed signs of breaking loose with hard-hit outs in his previous two at-bats.
After being stymied for six innings by Reds starter Mat Latos, making his first start of the season, the Brewers struck for two runs in the seventh off reliever Logan Ondrusek to take a 2-1 lead. The rally started with a walk to Jonathan Lucroy and single by Carlos Gomez.
After the runners moved up on Aramis Ramirez's fly to deep center, Khris Davis delivered the tying run with a groundout to short. When former Brewers left-hander Manny Parra came on to face Lyle Overbay, the Brewers switched to right-handed pinch hitter Rickie Weeks.
After Gomez moved to third on a wild pitch by Parra, Weeks singled through the left side of the infield to put the Brewers on top, 2-1.
The lead didn't last long, however. Lefty Will Smith, who took over after a strong start by Yovani Gallardo (seven innings, six hits, one run, eight strikeouts), surrendered a one-out homer to Reds leadoff hitter Billy Hamilton with one down in the eighth.
It was the first home run allowed this season in 35 appearances by Smith.
The Reds struck first with a run in the first inning off Gallardo, and it began with a ground-rule double to left-center by Hamilton. Gallardo retired the next two hitters but Brandon Phillips rapped a single up the middle for a 1-0 lead.
Gallardo found more trouble in the second when Ryan Ludwick led off with a double to left and held second on Brayan Pena's infield single into the hole at short. That budding rally fizzled when Zack Cozart grounded into a 6-4-3 double play and Latos flied out to right.
The Reds threatened to add to their lead in the sixth when Joey Votto and Phillips singled with two down. Jay Bruce followed with a liner up the middle but the Brewers were perfectly positioned, with shortstop Jean Segura standing there to record the third out.
Braun had been in an extended slump for the Brewers but he hadn't hit in much luck, either. After lining out to short in his previous at-bat, he sent a fly to deep center that was hauled in by Hamilton with Gennett on second and two down.
Gennett had doubled to cap after remarkable 13-pitch duel with Latos, who called it a night after that inning.
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