Cincinnati- It’s still a little early to be worried about the standings. But when the best team in baseball is a National League Central rival, it certainly doesn’t hurt to put a dent into its sizable lead.
The Reds needed an all-around solid effort Thursday night against the Brewers, and that’s what they got during an 8-3 victory. Homer Bailey pitched a season-high eight innings and received plenty of help with three home runs, including pinch-hitter Brayan Pena’s two-run shot in a five-run eighth.
At 13-15, the Reds improved to 6 1/2 games behind the 20-9 Brewers.
“They’ve picked me up all year so far. I’m just glad I was able to do something for them,” said Bailey, who gave up three runs and eight hits with one walk and four strikeouts.
“They’re a very confident team right now and he made some big pitches against a good team,”Reds manager Bryan Price said.
A tired Brewers bullpen became exposed in the eighth. Leading off against Jim Henderson, Zack Cozart hit a single to right field. There was one out when Pena batted for Bailey and pulled Henderson’s first-pitch slider just far enough over the right-field fence for the second pinch-hit homer of his career.
“I wasn’t thinking about driving the ball. I was thinking about hitting the ball hard somewhere,” said Pena, who also homered while starting Wednesday’s game vs. the Cubs. “I just got a pitch a little bit up and took advantage of it. It’s one of those things — my focus was on trying to do my job, trying to hit the ball hard somewhere and see what happens. I wasn’t expecting the homer, to be honest with you, but I will take it.”
“Another big at-bat,” Price said. “That’s one of the reasons that we got Brayan. Because we knew that when he wasn’t catching, he’d be able to have that type of influence on our lineup as a bench player.”
“It was good for all of us,” Bailey said. “This team has gone through a lot so far. I think things are fixing to turn around. You can feel it in the clubhouse.”
“This game is amazing,” Todd Frazier said on his two run homerun.”The ball I hit, I thought it was a pop fly. I kind of walked to first, thinking, ‘Darn, if I just waited a little bit longer,’ and it went out. You never know in this game. That’s the best thing about it. … It was just my signature kind of swings there, out in front. When you barrel a ball up, you’ve always got a chance, especially if you’ve got power.”