On America’s Independence Day 2014, the Cincinnati Reds provided more pyrotechnics than the Milwaukee Brewers, holding on for a 4-2 victory in a Fourth of July contest at the Great American Ball Park. Both teams wore patches commemorating the 75th anniversary of Lou Gehrig‘s ‘Luckiest man’ speech, which also was replayed on the scoreboard during the game.
The Brewers (51-35) came into tonight’s game leading the N.L. Central, holding a five-game lead over St. Louis and a seven-game lead over fourth place Cincinnati (43-41). The starting pitchers were Kyle Lohse (9-2, 3.08 ERA) for Milwaukee and Alfredo Simon (10-3, 2.81 ERA) for the home team Reds.
In the top of the first, Scooter Gennett and Ryan Braun both grounded out before Jonathan Lucroy reached on an infield single to deep short. Lucroy advanced to second on a errant pick-off throw by Simon but was stranded when Carlos Gomez flied to right for the final out.
The game remained scoreless in the top of the second. Aramis Ramirez flied to center and Lyle Overbay rolled to second for two quick outs before Jean Segura drew a four-pitch walk and then stole second base to put the Brewers in business again. The rally fizzled when Jim Carrey look-alike Logan Schafer grounded to short.
Brandon Phillips opened the bottom half of the frame for the Reds by serving a soft single to center but was then erased at second on a nice play by Gennett on a Jay Bruce grounder. Devin Mesoraco and Skip Schumaker whiffed to end the inning.
Lohse flied to center to open the top half of the third before the Brewers got a pair of base runners on a liner up the middle by Gennett and a walk by Braun. Lucroy flied to right, moving Gennett to second, but then Gomez forced Braun at second to end the threat.
The Reds got on the board in the home half of the third.
With one out, Simon looped a single to left field and then trotted home on the next pitch as Hamilton waited on a change-up, lofting it into the right field stands for his fifth round-tripper of the year to make it 2-0. Frazier got into scoring position when he hammered a double off the wall in left, but couldn’t advance past the keystone as Votto flied out and Phillips struck out.
Ramirez lined a base hit just over Cozart’s head to start the fourth but was wiped out on a 4-6-3 double play ball by Overbay. Segura bounced to short to end the frame.
The Red Stockings got another tally on the board courtesy of back-to-back one out doubles in the bottom of the fourth.
Mesoraco hit a shot to center that Gomez leaped for, only to see it bounce off the heel of his glove as the Reds catcher coasted into second. Schumaker then ripped a shot to the ’370′ sign in right, scoring Mesoraco to make it 3-0. Cozart popped out and Simon whiffed to end the inning.
Simon made quick work of the Brewers in the fifth with the fly out, strike out, ground out trifecta.
The Reds scored an unearned run in the fifth to take a 4-0 lead.
With one out, Frazier hit a ground ball midway between first and second and Overbay–playing the shift for the righty hitter–bobbled the ball for an error. Votto lined a double to the track in left field for a double, scoring Frazier. Phillips walked but Lohse got a grounder and fly ball to end the bleeding.
The Brewers couldn’t answer once again, going down in the order for the second consecutive time in the six, still trailing by four.
Lefty Tom Gorzelanny came in to start the sixth. Lohse allowed seven hits, four runs (three earned), while walking one and striking out eight.
Schumaker singled past Gennett to open the inning and would make it to second on a stolen base, but no further as Gorzelanny struck out the side.
The guests finally got on the board in the seventh.
Ramirez was hit on the hand by a pitch and would move to second on a wild pitch. Overbay then lined a single to right, moving Ramirez to third.
With runners at the corners, Segura hit a high chopper over Frazier’s head that Cozart grabbed, but was late on the throw to second as Ramirez scored to cut the lead to 4-1.
Pinch-hitter Rickie Weeks grounded to short, forcing Segura at second as Overbay raced to third with two outs. Gennett flied to right for the third out.
Rob Wooten came on for the Brewers to start the seventh. Frazier opened the inning by lining to left center, where Schafer made a diving attempt but had the ball bounce off his glove. Frazier tried to stretch the hit into a two-bagger but was called out on a nice throw by Schafer. Phillips hit a tapper in front of the plate and stood for a moment, thinking the ball was foul, but when Lucroy tagged him, home plate umpire Paul Emmel called the final out of the frame.
The Brewers made some noise in the top of the eighth with Simon still on the mound. With one out, Lucroy drove a ball that either just cleared the fence or bounced off the yellow padding on top of the wall for a homer to cut the lead to 4-2, chasing the Reds starter from the game.
Jonathan Broxton came in to face Gomez with one out. The Brewers center fielder hit the ball hard, but off the end of the bat and Schumaker made a great diving catch in deep left for the second out. Ramirez flied to center for the third out.
Brewers southpaw Zach Duke came out for the eighth and allowed a looping two-out single to left by Schumaker, but whiffed Cozart to end the inning.
The Brewers had their work cut out for them as stud closer Aroldis Chapman came out for the save opportunity, and he didn’t disappoint the cheering Reds fans, setting the Brewers down in order for his 17th save of the season.
Simon picked the win, improving to 11-3 while going 7 1/3 innings, allowing two runs (earned), walking two and whiffing three.