Milwaukee Brewers' Ramon Flores reacts after striking out with the bases loaded against the Cincinnati Reds during the third inning of a baseball game, Saturday, July 16, 2016, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Gary Landers
July 16, 2016

CINCINNATI (AP) Jonathan Lucroy missed the two-strike pitch but got the call. His next swing produced a home run that sparked a big inning.

Lucroy's two-run homer started Milwaukee's five-run third inning, and the Brewers rolled to a 9-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday night with their best offensive showing in nearly two months.

The bottom two teams in the NL Central have split the first two games of their series.

Lucroy connected off left-hander John Lamb (1-7) in the third as he continued taking advantage of the last-place Reds. The All-Star catcher is 14 for 31 (.452) against Cincinnati this season, with five of his 12 homers and 15 RBIs.

First, there was some controversy. Lucroy swung at a two-strike pitch that landed in the dirt, but plate umpire Quinn Wolcott heard a sound and called a foul tip, extending the at-bat. Replays indicated that Lucroy missed the ball, but the tip of his bat hit the plate, causing the sound. Lucroy initially thought his bat hit the ball but later realized he'd hit only the plate.

Reds manager Bryan Price immediately came out to argue but got nowhere.

''It was an honest mistake,'' Lucroy said. ''I don't blame (Price). I don't blame him at all. I really thought I'd foul-tipped it. He (Wolcott) did, too. That's one of those crazy things that happen during a game.''

When Price went out to change pitchers later during the long inning, he got into it again with the umpire, who gave him his third ejection of the season.

''There was more into it than that, and we'll leave it at that,'' Price said. ''Quinn does a great job. I have no problems with effort. We had a difference of opinion and it got out of hand.''

Lamb and reliever Keyvius Sampson needed 53 pitches to get through the inning as the Brewers sent 11 batters to the plate and piled up five hits, three walks and five runs for a 9-0 lead. Jimmy Nelson (6-7) faked a bunt and slapped a two-run single during the spurt.

''That's something he's comfortable doing, his best offensive weapon,'' manager Craig Counsell said.

The Brewers hadn't scored nine runs in a game since May 27, when they beat the Reds 9-5. Cincinnati's starting pitcher that game: Lamb.

Hernan Perez also hit a two-run homer off Lamb, who gave up nine runs and nine hits. He left after the first five Brewers reached in the third inning. The left-hander has lost his last three starts, giving up 20 runs in 11 1/3 innings.

Nelson gave up six hits and a pair of walks in seven shutout innings, emerging from his slump. He had been 0-4 with a 5.14 ERA in his last seven starts. Joey Votto had four of Cincinnati's nine hits.

''It felt good to be back to where I was early on,'' said Nelson, who has been working on pushing off harder with his legs during his delivery. ''My pitches seemed to have better life on them.''

Jonathan Villar had three of the Brewers' 12 hits. Each of the top seven batters in the order scored.

BREWERS MOVE

Milwaukee optioned INF Yadiel Rivera to Triple-A after the game, opening a roster spot for RHP Zach Davies to be called up and start on Sunday.

STATS

The eight-run margin of victory matched the Brewers' biggest on the road this season. They won 10-2 at Miami on May 10. ... It was Votto's first four-hit game since April 15, 2014, against Pittsburgh. He's had a career-high four hits 17 times.

GIVEAWAY

The Reds gave away Zack Cozart bobbleheads. The shortstop went 0 for 3 but made a diving catch.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Brewers: Perez fouled a ball off his left foot and came out of the game an inning later. He was sent for precautionary X-rays.

Reds: 2B Brandon Phillips was out of the lineup with a strained right calf, injured during a swing in Friday night's game.

UP NEXT

Brewers: Davies (6-4) has gone 6-1 with a 3.24 ERA in his last 12 starts. He's made seven quality starts.

Reds: Dan Straily (4-6) is 0-4 in his last five starts, giving up 23 earned runs in 27 innings.

---

Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apjoekay

You May Like