MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers finally showed signs of life at the plate, but not before the Reds had run up the score.
The teams traded big innings in a wild game at Miller Park on Friday night, as the Reds took an eight-run lead by the third inning only to see the Brewers storm back with a seventh-run sixth. Tucker Barnhart's solo homer in the seventh proved the decisive blow of the teams' 31 combined hits as Cincinnati held on in the end, 11-10, to hand Milwaukee a sixth straight loss.
"I don't know what words to express how much I admire how well our guys handled that. You have some of those where you get a big lead and then the opposing team comes back and makes it a game, or steals a game from you," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "And that one reeked of Milwaukee coming back and stealing that game from us. There were some huge moments."
After dropping below the Cardinals in the standings the night before, the Brewers fell into a virtual tie for third place with another surging National League Central rival, the Pirates. The Brewers and Bucs are three games behind the division-leading Cubs.
"We put a heck of a comeback on it," said Brewers manager Craig Counsell. "Multiple times we put the tying or go-ahead run on base and had multiple shots at tying the game. When you are down eight going into the sixth inning, that's pretty improbable."
Manny Pina's two-run home run off Reds starter Homer Bailey briefly gave Milwaukee a 2-1 lead in the second inning, but things quickly went downhill for Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson. He was charged with 10 runs (nine earned) on 11 hits, including nine singles. Nelson walked three, though one was an intentional pass to Joey Votto in the third inning before the Reds broke the game open with six runs on five two-out singles, then tacked on three more runs in the fourth inning to make it 10-2.
The Brewers brought the go-ahead run to the plate in three of the final four innings, only to fall short. Eric Thames' three-run home run highlighted the seventh-run sixth, and Jonathan Villar hit a solo homer in the ninth as Milwaukee threatened again.
"I'm honestly proud of the guys and the way they fought back," Nelson said. "I mean, that's awesome."
Bailey, coming off a start against the Cardinals in which he surrendered a career-high 10 earned runs, held the Brewers to two runs on five hits in five innings for the win.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Death by papercut: Nelson's one-out walk to Billy Hamilton set up Cincinnati's six-run rally in the third. After the intentional walk to Votto, Nelson struck out Adam Duvall to put the Brewers an out away from escaping with the lead, but Scooter Gennett kept the inning alive with a bloop, two-run single to right field that made it 3-2. The Reds kept going, tacking on with Eugenio Suarez's run-scoring single, Jesse Winker's opposite-field, two-run double down the line and Barnhart's infield hit, which produced a run when Brewers second baseman Villar committed his second error of the inning.
"When it rains, it pours," Nelson said of his star-crossed start. "Pretty tough."
Not over yet: The Brewers entered the bottom of the sixth inning in a 10-2 hole but managed to bring the tying run to the plate with no outs, and the go-ahead run to the plate with one out. The big blow of a seven-run rally was Thames' three-run home run off Reds reliever Blake Wood, who surrendered five runs without recording an out. Thames' team-leading 26th home run to straightaway center field was his ninth against the Reds this season, the most for any Major Leaguer against one team.
"It is like a bull. The bull seeing the red or something like that," Counsell said. "We have more games against them, so hopefully it continues.
Iglesias goes deep: Reds closer Raisel Iglesias became the first pitcher since 2000 to log six saves of two-plus innings when he navigated two harrowing frames to finish the game. Travis Shaw's decision to hold at third base in the eighth when Reds left fielder Duvall bobbled Domingo Santana's double loomed large when Iglesias struck out Pina and pinch-hitter Jesus Aguilar to end the threat.
In the ninth, Villar homered to make it a one-run game and Thames singled to bring the winning run to the plate with one out. Again, Iglesias held firm, retiring Ryan Braun on a foul popup and striking out Shaw to end it.
"His stuff is next-level," Barnhart said of Iglesias. "It looks sometimes like he's throwing Wiffle balls. It makes it tough on hitters. When he doesn't have his best stuff and he's able to do that tonight, it's pretty special and speaks to how good he is."
What did Shaw see on that play in the eighth?
"I looked at [third base coach] Eddie [Sedar], and initially he had the stop sign up, to I slowed down," said Shaw. "Then [Duvall] bobbled it, and it was too late by then. Honestly, in that situation, a two-run game, you don't want to take any chances, especially with one out. Looking back now, it kind of turns into a big deal, but at the time, it's better to be safe than sorry."
"That's what we've been looking for for a couple of weeks now. It was a good sign to see that tonight. Obviously, you still want to win that game, but being down 10-2 and coming back, it should be a good sign going forward." -- Shaw, on the Brewers' offensive breakout
"We have a different animal here because we have a couple of relievers that have been starters. Organizationally, we really wanted to get our bang for the buck and not compartmentalize them into one-inning pitchers. They're young, they're durable, they compete well, and we want to maximize what we can. The only way that works is to have other guys in the bullpen who carry the load when you need someone. There hasn't been great opportunity for [Drew] Storen or some of our younger relief pitchers for save opportunities, but there will be tomorrow. I can tell you it's probably not going to be Iggy tomorrow." -- Price, on using Iglesias for six-out saves
WHAT'S NEXT Reds:Scott Feldman will come off the the disabled list and return to the rotation Saturday when the series continues at 7:10 p.m. ET at Miller Park. Feldman hasn't pitched for the Reds since July 17 vs. the Nationals. He left that game with a sore right knee and went on the 10-day DL with inflammation the next day.
Brewers: Left-hander Brent Suter will make his ninth start in place of the injured Chase Anderson in Game 2 of this series at 6:10 p.m. CT on Saturday. Suter has yet to start against the Reds in his career but has not allowed a run in 4 1/3 innings of relief against them, including one inning this season on June 27.