CINCINNATI -- Jay Bruce snapped out of an 0 for 26 slump in the most painful way possible for the Milwaukee Brewers.
He hit a two-run home run to right field off Will Smith with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning, lifting the Cincinnati Reds to a 4-2 victory in front of a crowd of 27,923 at Great American Ball Park on Sunday afternoon.
It was a tough loss to swallow for Milwaukee, which fought back to tie the game in the top of the eighth on a pinch-hit single by Rickie Weeks. The Brewers finished their road trip with a 1-4 record, and dropped to 3-7 this season against the Reds.
"He has big ABs whenever they need them, I'll tell you that," Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. "He put a good swing on what I thought was a decent pitch, even though it wasn't exactly where we were trying to go."
Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo, who was roughed up in the first in falling behind, 2-0, settled in nicely after that. He allowed just five hits -- all singles -- over the next six innings and after pitching a 1-2-3 seventh stood at 95 pitches.
"As a starter, you're going to have those types of innings," Gallardo said. "You never want them, but once it gets to that point, you have to keep it right there and let the guys come back and swing the bats. We have a real good lineup, to where they're going to put up some runs."
The Brewers, who'd managed only two hits to that point against Reds starter Mat Latos, got a two-out double to center from Logan Schafer in the eighth to present manager Ron Roenicke with the decision to let Gallardo bat for himself or go to the bench.
Roenicke wound up choosing offense, and Weeks rewarded his faith with a single to left-center to drive in Schafer and tie the ball game at 2-2. It was the second run scored by Schafer, who started in right in place of the ailing Ryan Braun (lower back spasms).
"With not much going on offensively the whole game, to come back and tie it, I felt really good," said Roenicke. "I thought we were going to have a real good shot to win it."
Smith replaced Gallardo in the bottom of the eighth and didn't help himself by issuing a one-out walk to Brandon Phillips. That brought up Bruce, who was in a personal funk, yet he had hit 47 homers to that point off left-handed pitchers in the last five years -- most in the majors.
Smith (1-2), who'd limited left-handed hitters to a .143 average this season, got ahead of Bruce, 0-2, before leaving a fastball up that Bruce hammered into the seats in right field. It was the first extra-base hit allowed to a lefty this season by Smith.
"I think it's the right call at that time," Smith said of the fastball. He became the Brewers' setup man this year on the strength of his slider, which is especially tough on lefties.
"He took a pretty good slider the pitch before; I just didn't throw (the fastball) exactly where I wanted to. It wasn't a bad, bad pitch, but it was still up where he could get to it. He's a good hitter, too. He did what he was supposed to do to it."
Smith said he wasn't aware of Bruce's struggles coming into that at-bat.
"You still have to respect what kind of hitter he is," he said. "Guys go through slumps; they snap out of them at any time. He snapped out of it that pitch."
Jonathan Broxton -- not closer Aroldis Chapman -- then closed the game out with a 1-2-3 ninth for his sixth save.
It looked like it was going to be a long day for Gallardo after the opening frame.
With one out, Todd Frazier and Phillips each singled to right. Bruce followed with a fielder's choice that drove in Frazier to give the Reds a 1-0 lead.
Gallardo then hit Ryan Ludwick with a pitch, and Devin Mesoraco singled to right to score Phillips. Ludwick was thrown out by Schafer trying for third, limiting the damage to two runs.
Gallardo benefitted from a stroke of good luck in the second.
With one out, No. 8 hitter Ramon Santiago jumped on the first pitch he saw and sent a drive to right. Schafer went back and leapt at the wall, only to have a fan reach over and interfere with him and touch the ball.
The ball dropped, and Schafer assumed the play was dead. Santiago, meanwhile, ran the bases and reached home plate with Schafer not throwing the ball in until it was too late. The standard fireworks then went off under the assumption Santiago had just hit an inside-the-park home run.
Roenicke came out to talk to home-plate umpire Jordan Baker, and crew chief Jerry Meals eventually decided to review the play. After 3 minutes, 46 seconds, Santiago was ruled out on the play to the consternation of the crowd and Reds manager Bryan Price.
"I can't tell if that ball is going to leave the ballpark or not," Roenicke said. "The angle they showed up on the board, it's still hard to tell. Schafer no doubt would have caught the ball. I guess the question is whether it would have left the ballpark or not."
Milwaukee didn't manage its first base runner against Latos (2-1) until the fourth inning, when Jean Segura drew a one-out walk, and its first hit until Aramis Ramirez led off the fifth with a single to left-center.
Ramirez was thrown out easily trying to stretch it into a double, however, and Latos didn't give up another hit until Schafer led off the sixth with a triple into the corner in right.
Gennett then drove Schafer in with a one-out ground ball to second, halving Cincinnati's lead to 2-1 despite being outhit to that point, 7-2.
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