MILWAUKEE (AP) — Jonathan Lucroy has been frustrated, struggling at the plate the past month despite being named to his first All-Star team.
That all changed Tuesday night against the Cincinnati Reds.
Lucroy homered leading off the bottom of the ninth to give the Milwaukee Brewers a 4-3 victory over the Reds.
“To be honest with you, the last couple of weeks have been kind of tough for making solid contact, but I’m glad to help the team out, contribute and get it done tonight,” said Lucroy, who was batting just .200 (21 for 105) in his last 25 games.
It was Lucroy’s second homer of the game and 11th of the season. It was his second career walkoff homer and both were against the Reds. His first was last season off closer Aroldis Chapman and this one was off Sam LeCure.
The Brewers had lost five consecutive series before beating the Reds in the first two games of this series.
Lucroy’s average had dipped from .341 on June 18 to .308 entering Tuesday night’s game.
“He’s frustrated because he thinks he’s squaring up some balls,” Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said. “It’s not like he wasn’t locked in, but today obviously he was.”
Francisco Rodriguez (4-3) pitched the ninth to earn the victory.
Cincinnati, which is 0-5 since the All-Star break, brought in LeCure (1-2) to pitch the ninth. His outing lasted just three pitches as Lucroy hit a 1-1 offering for a line drive homer inside the left field foul pole.
His first homer of the game was on a 3-2 pitch from starter Homer Bailey in the sixth.
The Reds came out of the All-Star break just 1½ games behind Milwaukee in the NL Central but have quickly fallen 4½ games back.
“We just haven’t executed,” Cincinnati manager Bryan Price said. “We haven’t swung the bats well. We haven’t gotten a quality start.
“And we haven’t played particularly good defense, we’ve missed some signs and just haven’t played terribly well,” he said.
Milwaukee scored all its runs on solo home runs. Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez hit back-to-back homers in the first inning on the one-year anniversary of the start of Braun’s 65-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s drug policies.
“I’m glad I’m not facing them so it’s nice to have them on our side,” Milwaukee starter Jimmy Nelson said of having Braun, Ramirez and Lucroy in the lineup.
Braun hit his 13th homer and Ramirez followed with his 12th homer, and first since June 26.
Cincinnati made it 2-1 in the fourth on Jay Bruce’s RBI double that scored Billy Hamilton from third.
Lucroy’s first homer extended Milwaukee’s lead to 3-1.
Cincinnati tied it 3-3 in the seventh. Nelson hit Ramon Santiago on the foot with a pitch with the bases loaded and pinch-hitter Chris Heisey hit a sacrifice fly off reliever Brandon Kintzler.
Billy Hamilton then hit a soft fly ball but Zack Cozart was doubled off second base to end the inning.
Kintzler, Zach Duke and Rodriguez pitched three hitless innings of relief for Milwaukee.
“Kintzler did a great job, coming in with the bases loaded and no outs,” Nelson said.
The Reds managed only five hits and Milwaukee had six.
Nelson allowed three runs, four hits and a walk and hit three batters while striking out five in his fourth major league start.
“He was down in the zone and his slider was good,” Roenicke said.
Bailey allowed three runs, four hits and two walks while striking out three in his first start since leaving a game against the Chicago Cubs on July 10 due to right knee soreness.
NOTES: Brewers 2B Scooter Gennett left the game in the fifth inning due to tightness in his right quad. Roenicke said he was day-to-day. … Cozart left the game after being hit on the right hand by a pitch from Nelson in the seventh inning. X-rays were negative and the team said he was day-to-day. … The Reds placed RHP Logan Ondrusek on the 15-day DL retroactive to July 13 and recalled RHP Curtis Partch from Triple-A Louisville. … A brief rain shower caused the Brewers to close roof at Miller Park in the fourth inning. It reopened in the sixth.
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