Home runs lift Brewers past Reds
The Milwaukee Brewers ignored manager Ron Roenicke's new aggressive, base-to-base approach for a night.
Rickie Weeks, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder each hit solo homers Tuesday night and the Brewers beat the Cincinnati Reds for the first time this season, 3-2.
"All home runs," Roenicke said. "There goes that small ball."
Milwaukee had been 0-4 against the Reds this year and losers of 19 of 22 since July 2009 against them before Weeks homered off reliever Logan Ondrusek (2-2) to lead off the eighth on a line drive.
Ondrusek and Reds manager Dusty Baker didn't think the ball was headed out. Weeks knew it as soon as it left his bat.
"It's always nice to have that in our repertoire," Weeks said.
Fielder hit his to begin the second to drive in his major league-leading 23rd run. Braun's shot to start the fourth was his major league-leading ninth this season.
"It's fantastic," Brewers closer John Axford said. "They were just one-run solo shots, but those were huge for us. When we have those guys are going through the lineup at any point, they can blow up a game."
Brandon Phillips was back in the cleanup spot and hit a two-run homer in the fourth to give Cincinnati a 2-1 lead, but it wouldn't last.
Kameron Loe (2-1) worked the eighth and Axford threw a 1-2-3 ninth for his fifth save.
Braun is the reigning NL player of the week and well on his way to repeating the feat with his current pace. He's homered in five of his last seven games and has an 11-game hitting streak, batting .413 over the stretch.
Fielder has been hot, too. After a 3-for-17 stretch to start the season without an RBI, he's hitting .380 over his last 18 games.
"It's a great start, that's where you want to be," Weeks said of the two sluggers. "It's hard in baseball to start slow and try to build your way back into things."
Phillips was back in the cleanup spot and drove in two more runs with his homer in the fourth after knocking in three runs in a 9-5 win in the series opener on Monday.
But the rest of the Reds were quiet. After 12 hits on Monday, Cincinnati had two off Marco Estrada over seven innings, and one was by starter Mike Leake. Neither Loe nor Axford allowed another. Estrada is in the rotation while Zack Greinke rehabs from a broken rib. Estrada could remain if Chris Narveson falters or slide into a long relief role.
"I'm trying my hardest to stay here," Estrada said. "Hopefully I'm good enough to stay around for a little bit because I like it here."
Leake had earned a win in his previous start, three days after getting arrested for shoplifting from a Cincinnati department store. The caustic signs in his first start at home in Cincinnati didn't follow him to Milwaukee.
There was only a small chant of "thief, thief, thief" when Leake batted in the eighth, but it sounded like "Leake, Leake, Leake." Leake left without pitching in the eighth, an odd decision considering the Reds had their leadoff hitter on when he failed to get a sacrifice bunt down and struck out. Baker didn't pinch hit because he believed Leake would be able to execute the bunt.
"I don't know if we would have gotten him in or not, but at least we would have had the opportunity," the manager said.
Leake's only mistakes on the mound were the solo shots to Fielder and Braun. In the fifth, he picked off Carlos Gomez after a leadoff single, then allowed a Weeks' triple before striking out Craig Counsell looking.
Braun tied Robin Yount's franchise record of most consecutive games reaching base safely to start a season at 23 after Yount did it 28 years ago.
Joey Votto also reached base safely to extend his streak to 24 games. The two are the only players in baseball to have an active streak since the start of the season.
NOTES: Brewers RF Corey Hart (oblique) was activated just before the game, instead of Wednesday as planned, because INF/OF Erick Almonte (concussion) was hit in the forehead by a thrown ball during batting practice. ... Hart received a standing ovation when he pinch hit in the seventh. ... Almonte became the first major leaguer placed on the new seven-day disabled list established specifically for concussions. ... Reds left fielder Jeremy Hermida is hitless in 12 at-bats this season.