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Estrada overpowers Reds in 3-1 Brewers win
, AP Baseball Writer
Monday, August 26, 2013 11:00 AM
CINCINNATI - When Marco Estrada's changeup is working, he'll get a lot of out-front swings that result in weak popups. His fastball seems a lot harder to hit, too.
The Cincinnati Reds rarely hit anything hard off Estrada on Sunday, managing only one single in seven shutout innings while the Milwaukee Brewers held on for a 3-1 victory. With the way Estrada was throwing, Caleb Gindl's two-run homer was more than enough.
His best pitch made a big difference.
"The changeup kept working, so I kept throwing it," Estrada said. "I got away with a couple, but I kept it down most of the time."
The Brewers took two of three from the Reds, who remain right behind Pittsburgh and St. Louis in the NL Central race.
Estrada (6-4) gave up Shin-Soo Choo's leadoff single in the first inning, and then left the Reds swinging at nothing. He walked two, fanned a season-high nine and retired 10 batters on popups or fly balls - usually a risky thing in homer-friendly Great American Ball Park.
"He's one of those guys that if he makes his pitches, he'll have success," Reds outfielder Jay Bruce said. "If he doesn't, the ball gets up in the zone. After Choo got that hit, that was generally it. He pitched a really, really good game."
Jim Henderson gave up Joey Votto's 20th homer in the ninth inning while picking up his 21st save in 24 chances.
Right-hander Greg Reynolds (0-2) made his second spot start, this time for injured left-hander Tony Cingrani. Reynolds did far better this time, limiting the Brewers to five hits in six innings, including Gindl's homer.
Jean Segura singled home another run in the seventh.
With the way Estrada was pitching, the Reds were fortunate just to hit the ball hard. Estrada fanned six in a row during one stretch. The Reds hit only one ball out of the infield from the second through the sixth innings, Zack Cozart's routine flyout.
Estrada is on his best surge of the season. He was sidelined for two months with a strained left hamstring, and has dominated since his return on Aug. 6. He's 2-0 in four starts, allowing a total of only five earned runs.
"He had great command of his changeup," manager Ron Roenicke said. "He was throwing his curveball for strikes down in the zone and spotted his fastball well. When he's got his changeup going and his curve going, they have to think about it and he can get his fastball by them."
Gindl has shown a knack for noteworthy homers.
He became the first in Brewers history to have a game-ending homer as his first in the majors, a solo shot in the 13th inning for a 1-0 win over Miami on July 21. On Saturday night, he had the first pinch-hit homer of his career, also a solo shot during a 6-3 loss to the Reds.
He belted the fourth pitch he got from Reynolds over the wall in right for a 2-0 lead.
"It feels great," Gindl said. "It was nice to connect with another one."
It was Reynolds' second start this season for the Reds. Reynolds, who was Colorado's first-round pick in 2006, also was called up from Triple-A Louisville to pitch the second game of a doubleheader on July 23 in San Francisco. Reynolds pitched at Stanford and had a lot of friends and family on hand for the game, which added to his nerves.
The second time around, he was much calmer and a lot better.
NOTES: The Reds put Cingrani on the 15-day disabled list with a strained lower back. They also moved RH reliever Jonathan Broxton to the 60-day DL. Broxton had season-ending surgery Friday to repair a tear in his right forearm. ... Cincinnati Ballet principal dancer Cervilio Amador threw a ceremonial pitch - after a double spin in the air - to fellow Cuban Aroldis Chapman.
Reds 6, Brewers 3 (Saturday) - Ryan Ludwick hit a line drive that carried into the seats in left field for his first homer since last October. The next time up, he hit the ball as hard as he can, right at the shortstop.
Maybe his swing is starting to come around.
Ludwick hit the most noteworthy of Cincinnati's four homers on Saturday night during a 6-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers that left their cleanup hitter with a better feeling.
"Amazing," Ludwick said. "And my next at-bat, I was even more thrilled. I hit that ball harder than the home run. The swing was more pure, the ball had no sink. That ball I hit to the shortstop was the hardest ball I've hit since I've been here. That was my best swing since I've been here."
Zack Cozart added a tie-breaking two-run homer as the Reds piled up 14 hits, their highest total against an NL Central opponent since June 11. They evened their series at a game apiece with their 13th victory in their last 18 games overall.
Bronson Arroyo (13-9) won his fourth straight start by allowing three runs, including Caleb Gindl's pinch-hit homer leading off the eighth. The right-hander hasn't walked a batter in his last 29 2-3 innings.
Aroldis Chapman pitched the ninth for his 33rd save in 38 chances. The left-hander hit a batter and fanned three with a fastball that repeatedly registered 102 mph.
"It was a good win for us as a whole," Arroyo said. "The bullpen got some rest. We've been playing good baseball. After you take three out of four from Arizona, you don't want to lose two in a row."
Ludwick and Cozart connected in the sixth inning off John Axford (6-7), who failed to hold a 2-1 lead. Joey Votto added his 19th homer an inning later off Michael Gonzalez, and Cozart singled for his third RBI.
Axford had a rough start to the season, giving up runs in each of his first four appearances. He didn't give up any runs in 31 of his 32 appearances from May 15 to July 24. His inconsistency has been a mystery.
"It's hard to know," manager Ron Roenicke said. "When he's right, I want him in there. But he's got to be more consistent.
"He's got to get back to that guy he was for 30 outings in a row. He was really good for a while."
Chris Heisey started it with a solo homer off Wily Peralta, who lasted only five innings. The right-hander is 1-3 in five starts against the Reds this season. Last Sunday in Milwaukee, he gave up seven runs in only 4 1-3 innings of a 9-1 loss to the Reds.
Ludwick tore cartilage in his right shoulder while sliding headfirst into base on opening day, sidelining him for more than three months. His homer was his first since a solo shot off San Francisco's Matt Cain during Game 5 of the Giants' playoff victory in Cincinnati last season.
"It's a work in progress," Ludwick said. "I'm not where I want to be. Did I expect to be in midseason form? Yeah, probably. I was probably asking too much."
Arroyo overcome a tough early inning.
Khris Davis drove in the Brewers' first run with a double in the second, extending his impressive series. He had a pair of two-run homers in consecutive at-bats for a 6-4 win on Friday night.
Davis was called up for his third stint with Milwaukee when Ryan Braun accepted a 65-game suspension on July 22 for using performance-enhancing drugs. The rookie has batted .383 with eight homers since then, earning regular playing time in the outfield. He's got a 10-game hitting streak.
Scooter Gennett followed Davis' double with a sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead.
Milwaukee's defense cut down a rally in the fourth. Ludwick led off with a broken-bat single and tried to score from first base on Jack Hannahan's double off the wall in left-center field. Carlos Gomez got to the ball quickly and shortstop Jean Segura made a perfect relay to get Ludwick sliding into the plate.
Notes: RF Jay Bruce got a day off. He has played in all but two of Cincinnati's games this season.
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