Smooth Santana leads Brewers to 7-4 win over Reds

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Brewers broke out of an offensive slump in a three-game series with the Cincinnati Reds, capped off by a 7-4 victory Sunday at Miller Park.

Domingo Santana led the Brewers offense with his 19th home run of the year, driving in three runs in the process. Ryan Braun also stayed hot during the home stand with a 2-for-4 performance and an RBI.

Matt Garza didn’t have his best stuff, allowing four runs (three earned) over 5.1 innings while walking five, but he was pleased to get a win after a disastrous stretch prior to the series.

“We’re just trying to get back to playing our style of ball,” Garza said. “Guys are smiling, having a good time, and we’re creating a lot of pressure for the other team. That’s kind of what we do.”

After a four-game sweep by the Twins, Milwaukee held a team meeting in an attempt to get back on track. During the series with the Reds, the Brewers scored 23 runs and hit seven home runs.

Utility infielder Neil Walker, acquired over the weekend in a trade with the New York Mets, wasted little time making an impact. Playing third base, Walker finished with a 2-for-4 day at the plate.

Brewers beat Reds on walk-off wild pitch

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Brewers ended a six-game losing streak Saturday night, beating the Cincinnati Reds 6-5 on a walk-off wild pitch in the 10th inning at Miller Park.

After an Eric Thames solo home run in the sixth inning tied the game at 5-5, the Brewers were looking for some magic during a bases-loaded at-bat with Ryan Braun in the 10th. Eric Sogard had reached on a double, followed by consecutive walks to Jesus Aguilar and Eric Thames.

That magic came in the form of a wild pitch from Tim Adleman which traveled far enough away from the plate that Sogard was able to dive in from third base to beat the tag at home plate.

“I think you’re kind of expecting a walk-off hit to break a streak, but you take it any way you can get it,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “I think you can tell by the celebration we had that we needed it.”

The win not only snapped the six-game skid, but pulled Milwaukee within 2.0 games of the National League Central lead with the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals tied at the top of the division.

Corey Knebel was credited with the win, tossing two innings of one-hit baseball while striking out three. All five Reds runs came off starter Brent Suter, who allowed three home runs over his five innings of work.

Guerra shelled in 8-6 loss to Reds

CINCINNATI — The team’s starter on Opening Day, Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Junior Guerra couldn’t hold true to form in an 8-6 loss to the Cincinnati Reds Tuesday night.

Milwaukee came in to Great American Ballpark having avoided a series sweep by the Atlanta Braves, while getting Ryan Braun back from the disabled list. That momentum didn’t carry over to the pitching, as Guerra gave up all eight runs on eight hits. The Reds also took Guerra deep on four occasions.

“I think we hit 15-16 balls right on the screws today,” said Reds manager Bryan Price. “Really good offensively, I thought. There were certainly some big blows with the home runs, but just a lot of good, quality at-bats. A lot of barrel-on balls.”

Guerra was pulled after four innings, but the damage was done. Milwaukee’s offense couldn’t keep up with Cincinnati, despite the Reds coming in with the worst pitching staff in the league, losing 14 of their previous 16 starts with a combined 6.21 ERA.

Braun returned to the Brewers lineup to go 1-for-5 with a double. Manny Piña, Orlando Arcia, and Travis Shaw each went deep in the losing effort. But at the time, their efforts had given Milwaukee a 5-4 lead.

“Our offense usually doesn’t go down quietly,” said Shaw, who has homered in back-to-back games. “We knew in this ballpark it wasn’t over. [A four-run lead] is never going to be enough here.”

Braun expected to return Tuesday vs Reds

CINCINNATI — The Milwaukee Brewers will be joined in Cincinnati Tuesday night by six-time All-Star Ryan Braun, who completed a Class A rehab assignment over the weekend.

Braun is expected to rejoin the team when they take on the Reds, having played in three games with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in Appleton. Braun was 2-for-8 with a home run over the course of the series.  It was his first minor league start since May of 2007.

Braun hit the disabled list on May 26 with a calf strain, but has been slow to recover from an injury that also led to a lengthy DL stint for teammate Junior Guerra. He was out from Apr. 4 until May 26.

Joining Braun at the major league level this week is second baseman Jonathan Villar, who was on the 10-day disabled list with a lower back strain.

Thames sets franchise-record, Brewers beat Reds 9-1

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Eric Thames mashed his 11th home run of the year, setting a franchise record for the month of April in a 9-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds Tuesday night.

Thames now leads the majors in home runs, slugging percentage (.929), on-base plus slugging (1.411), and runs scored (25). Having faced steroid accusations for most of his life, Thames joked about the process following the win.

“This whole thing is surprising me, as well,” Thames said of his hot start to the season. “I really have no goals for this year. I wasn’t trying to break any records or set anything. I just wanted to apply what I learned in Korea to see how it would fare here. I’m shocked at all the results.”

“So, yeah, if people keep thinking I’m on stuff, I’ll be here every day. I have lots of blood and urine.”

But it was more than just Thames who contributed to the win. Hernan Perez hit a pair of RBI triples along with a home run, while Jonathan Villar added four RBIs. Zach Davies was masterful from the mound, throwing five innings of shutout baseball, striking out six Reds batters in the process.

Ryan Braun and Domingo Santana struggled at the plate, going 0-for-4 and 0-for-5, respectively.

The win puts Milwaukee two games out of first place in the National League Central behind the Chicago Cubs.

Thames, Garza lead Brewers past Reds 11-7

MILWAUKEE — Eric Thames increased his home run total to 10, while Matt Garza impressed in his season debut to give the Milwaukee Brewers an 11-7 win over the Cincinnati Reds Monday night.

Thames’ hot April continued early in the game, blasting his ninth and tenth home runs of the year in the first and second innings of the game. He’s now hit seven home runs against the Reds this season in just five games.

But Hernan Perez may have played just as big a role in Milwaukee’s win, bombing a three-run home run at the score board in the first inning. The Brewers are now outscoring opponents in the first inning 22-7. That early run support made Garza’s job easier, striking out four batters during his four innings of work. He allowed just one earned run, but Cincinnati was able to grind out his pitch counts to 93 before his day was over.

Milwaukee is now a half game out of second place in the National League Central with two more games coming against Cincinnati at Miller Park.

Big bats back Brewers in 4-2 win over Reds

CINCINNATI — The Milwaukee Brewers recorded three home runs on their way to a 4-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds Sunday afternoon at Great American Ballpark.

Milwaukee (7-6) now sits in second place in the National League Central after winning three games in the four-game series with Cincinnati. Ryan Braun, Travis Shaw, and Eric Thames all went yard in the win.

Thames is now tied for the MLB lead with six home runs on the season, while holding the outright lead in OPS (1.376).

“I can’t remember a time in my career where a guy hit five home runs in a single series,” Braun said of Thames. “We’re seeing a really, really impressive hitter starting to emerge.”

Wily Peralta had a solid performance, lasting six innings, while giving up just two earned runs to pick up his third win of the year. He allowed a home run to Eugenio Suarez in the fourth inning.

Brewers extend win streak to four, reach milestone

CINCINNATI — The Milwaukee Brewers used a 4-for-5 day for Manny Pina and a two-run blast from Eric Thames to beat the Cincinnati Reds 10-4 and extend their winning streak to four games.

The run production broke through in the latter portions of the game, with Milwaukee able to push eight runs across the plate in the sixth and seventh innings. Most of that damage came against Blake Wood and Michael Lorenzen, whose respective ERAs rose to 6.75 and 5.14 on the year. The Brewers bullpen, on the other hand, allowed zero earned runs. The only run that scored was Arismendy Alcantara on a throwing error from Hernan Perez.

The victory not only moved Milwaukee up to third place in the National League Central, but put the Brewers (6-5) above .500 for the first time since late in the 2014 season.

Tommy Milone pitched under a bit of early pressure with the Brewers trailing 3-0, but he maintained his composure to throw five innings while striking out three. Those three runs allowed were the only marks against him on the evening.

Ex-Packer Hawk signs with Falcons

ATLANTA — After spending the last four months without a team, former Green Bay Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk has signed with the Atlanta Falcons.

Terms of the deal haven’t been disclosed, but the Falcons have been decimated by injury at the linebacker position. Sean Weatherspoon was placed on season-ending injured reserve with a torn Achilles tendon.

Hawk began the first nine years of his NFL career in Green Bay before joining the Cincinnati Bengals last season. He was only used as a part-time player until injury thrust him into a starting role for the final 11 games of the season. He still recorded a career-low 24 tackles with one sack.

Reds beat Brewers on passed ball

CINCINNATI — Milwaukee Brewers starter Zach Davies returned to throw seven scoreless innings, but a pitch from Will Smith that got past Jonathan Lucroy allowed Cincinnati Reds speedster Billy Hamilton to score from third base for a 1-0 walk-off win.

After being called up from Triple A Colorado Springs where he spent the All-Star break, Davies lasted seven innings, striking out five Reds batters. But Dan Straily was equally dominant, striking out four in his seven innings of shutout baseball. When it came down to the bullpen though, that’s when Milwaukee faltered.

Will Smith entered the game in the ninth inning with two outs and Billy Hamilton on first base. After walking his first batter and Hamilton stealing third, Smith faced Jay Bruce. The game-deciding pitch was low and got away from catcher Jonathan Lucroy with enough time for the speedy center fielder to seal the game with a 1-0 victory.

Lucroy pinned the loss on himself as Milwaukee regroups with an off-day on Monday before heading to Pittsburgh to begin a series with the Pirates Tuesday night at 6:05.