Cincinnati at Milwaukee

W: C. Narveson (6-5) L: H. Bailey (3-4)
S: J. Axford (23)
HR: CIN - R. Hernandez (9)   MIL - R. Weeks (16)

Brewers 5, Reds 4 wire reports

MILWAUKEE -- - John Axford's biggest meltdown this season came on opening day when he gave up a three-run lead against Cincinnati. The Brewers' closer made sure the Reds didn't do it again.

Axford converted his 23rd save in a wild ninth inning, Rickie Weeks hit a three-run homer and Milwaukee held on to beat Cincinnati 5-4 on Thursday night in an important four-game series before the All-Star break for the NL Central rivals.

"We've had a tough time at their place and at our place when they came here, too, so it's nice to get the first game of the series and hopefully we can carry it over the next three days into the break," Axford said.

Milwaukee, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh are all within striking distance of St. Louis atop the division, though the Brewers and Reds haven't played well lately.

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The Brewers led 5-2 in the fifth, before LaTroy Hawkins gave up a run in the eighth and Axford ran into serious trouble.

Axford allowed a leadoff home run to Ramon Hernandez -- who hit the only other homer off him on opening day -- and he needed a pitch out to erase another runner before getting the final out with men at the corners.

"We did escape with some things and we made some mistakes in the game," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "Ax made some good pitches when he had to and really Hawk did, too, after getting into a little bit of trouble."

Cincinnati's highly-touted prospect Zack Cozart singled, scored his first run and made a defensive play to save another, but the Reds lost for the fifth time in seven games.

The Reds had their opportunities to rally late.

Hawkins gave up an RBI groundout to Jay Bruce to make it 5-3, but got out of further trouble after putting runners on the corners with no outs. Axford gave up a one-out walk to Drew Stubbs, but he was caught stealing on a pitch out for the second out.

Miguel Cairo followed with a broken-bat single just out of the reach of Weeks at second and Joey Votto singled through the shifted infield. Axford ended it after fielding Brandon Phillips' sharp comebacker to him.

"It wasn't going to get through," Axford said. "It's all my offseason work, I don't have anybody to play catch with. I throw it up against a gym wall, so all the balls just come right back to me."

Chris Narveson (6-5) pitched six innings to improve to 4-1 over his last six starts, rebounding from a poor performance in Minnesota on Saturday.

Milwaukee didn't have Ryan Braun for a fifth straight game because of a strained left calf, but the Brewers found a way to put together a big inning after struggling to score runs during their recent slide.

The Brewers took a 1-0 lead in the second on Yuniesky Betancourt's sacrifice fly, but the Reds answered with runs in the third and fourth before Homer Bailey (3-4) lost command in the fifth when he allowed Jonathan Lucroy's single and walked Narveson on four pitches after Narveson wanted to lay down a sacrifice bunt, setting up Weeks' line-drive shot.

"I managed to hit the ball pretty hard right there and you kind of shock yourself sometimes," Weeks said. "Sometimes when you actually hit the ball you don't really see it until you watch the video or somebody tells you. It did feel good, though."

Corey Hart singled, stole second and scored on Mark Kotsay's single to give Milwaukee a 5-2 lead, setting up the wacky finish.

Cozart took over for Paul Janish at shortstop and made an impact in his first major-league game. The 25-year-old saved a run in the third with runners on the corners when he stabbed a grounder going to his right, throwing across the diamond to get Hart at first to end the inning.

In the fourth, Cozart singled with two outs and scored with a headfirst slide off Hernandez's single when Weeks' relay throw from second was wide right of the plate, but the rookie also killed a potential big inning in the sixth when he grounded into a double play.

"What's going to stick out to me is hitting into the double play. That's what I'm thinking about right now. I'm happy to get that first hit out of the way. Hopefully there's a lot more of those," Cozart said.


It was Weeks' 16th home run of the season. ... Prince Fielder had his 44th extra-base hit with a double in the second, the most in the NL. ... Utah Jazz PG Devin Harris, a Milwaukee native, threw out the first pitch. ... Tests showed no damage to Braun's left calf, but there's still lingering soreness. ... Axford is 16-for-16 in home save opportunities. ... The Brewers will start RHP Yovani Gallardo (10-5, 3.76 ERA) in the first game of the second half next Thursday at Colorado.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Players of the Game

R. Weeks
AB 3
R 1
H 2
HR 1

R. Hernandez
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1

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Cincinnati Reds
Drew Stubbs, CF4010100 .251
Miguel Cairo, 3B5021000 .288
Joey Votto, 1B4120112 .319
Brandon Phillips, 2B5020015 .294
Jay Bruce, RF3001101 .258
Jonny Gomes, LF4010022 .218
    Nick Masset, P0000000 .000
Zack Cozart, SS3110002 .333
   a- Chris Heisey, PH-LF1000001 .263
Ramon Hernandez, C4122011 .316
Homer Bailey, P2110001 .250
   b- Fred Lewis, PH1000000 .274
    Logan Ondrusek, P0000000 .000
    Edgar Renteria, SS1000000 .227
a-grounded out for Cozart in the 8th
b-grounded out for Bailey in the 7th
2B - Homer Bailey (1, Narveson)
HR - Ramon Hernandez (9, Axford)
RBI - Miguel Cairo (16), Jay Bruce (54), Ramon Hernandez 2 (23)
2-OUT RBI - Ramon Hernandez (5)
CS - Drew Stubbs (5, 2nd base by Axford/Lucroy), Brandon Phillips 2 (5, 2nd base by Narveson/Lucroy, 2nd base by Narveson/Lucroy)
Team LOB - 9
DP - Votto-Cozart
Cincinnati Reds
Homer Bailey (L,3-4) 6855211 4.13
Logan Ondrusek 1100100 1.73
Nick Masset 1000010 3.20
Pitches-Strikes - Homer Bailey 87-56, Logan Ondrusek 25-14, Nick Masset 9-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Homer Bailey 6-10, Logan Ondrusek 3-0, Nick Masset 1-1
Batters Faced - Homer Bailey 27, Logan Ondrusek 5, Nick Masset 3
Milwaukee Brewers
Rickie Weeks, 2B3123100 .275
Nyjer Morgan, CF-LF4000002 .324
Corey Hart, RF4120002 .262
Prince Fielder, 1B3110111 .302
Mark Kotsay, LF4011003 .253
    Carlos Gomez, CF0000000 .224
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS3011001 .241
Casey McGehee, 3B4000011 .222
Jonathan Lucroy, C4110000 .286
Chris Narveson, P1110100 .194
   a- Craig Counsell, PH1000000 .173
    Takashi Saito, P0000000 .000
    LaTroy Hawkins, P0000000 .000
    John Axford, P0000000 .000
a-flied out for Narveson in the 6th
2B - Prince Fielder (21, Bailey), Yuniesky Betancourt (12, Bailey), Chris Narveson (2, Bailey)
HR - Rickie Weeks (16, Bailey)
SF - Yuniesky Betancourt (7)
RBI - Rickie Weeks 3 (37), Mark Kotsay (13), Yuniesky Betancourt (29)
2-OUT RBI - Mark Kotsay (5)
SB - Corey Hart (3, 2nd base off Bailey/Hernandez)
Team LOB - 6
DP - Betancourt-Weeks-Fielder
E - Prince Fielder (9, Throwing), Rickie Weeks (11, Throwing)
Milwaukee Brewers
Chris Narveson (W,6-5) 6722250 4.75
Takashi Saito (H,2) 1000000 4.50
LaTroy Hawkins (H,11) 1211000 1.13
John Axford (S,23) 1311101 2.90
WP - Chris Narveson (3)
Pitches-Strikes - Chris Narveson 96-61, Takashi Saito 9-5, LaTroy Hawkins 21-14, John Axford 21-12
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Chris Narveson 4-8, Takashi Saito 2-1, LaTroy Hawkins 2-1, John Axford 2-0
Batters Faced - Chris Narveson 26, Takashi Saito 3, LaTroy Hawkins 5, John Axford 6
Game Information
Attendance - 34102
Game Time - 2:51
Temperature - 80
Umpires - Home - Bruce Dreckman, First Base - Chris Conroy, Second Base - Rob Drake, Third Base - Gary Darling