The strength of a contending club often isn’t determined by who plays every day Mike Daniels Jersey , but who plays only every few days. Or every few weeks. Or even every few months.
The Milwaukee Brewers were concerned when they began their Friday night game in Cincinnati with two injured starting outfielders, Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich, then lost the other starter, Ryan Braun, to lower back tightness in the seventh inning.
But manager Craig Counsell plugged in exactly the right pieces, and a spare outfield group that probably should be called “The Replacements” keyed an 8-2 victory over the Reds.
How’s this for a couple of fills-in, who did nothing except fill up the box score: Keon Broxton was 3-for-4 with two homers, four RBIs, a run stolen by some alert baserunning and an exceptional sliding catch.
And Hernan Perez, who came in after Braun was hurt, contributed a two-run double to start a five-run ninth inning.
“They (the Brewers outfield) have been the workhorse of this team, so I’ve got to come in and fill their spot while they’re down. It was a good night,” said Broxton, who played in only his third game this season.
Because their bench came through yet again — on Thursday night, part-time starter Eric Thames hit his third consecutive game-winning homer against the Reds — the Brewers can assure them of winning the four-game series by taking Saturday’s game at Great American Ball Park.
“It speaks to our depth again … we’ve had a couple of games like that where (bench players) make meaningful contributions,” Counsell said. “With Yelich down, we’re counting on Keon, so it’s got to be a good feeling for him.”
The last-place Reds had won nine of 10 coming in to the series, but still can’t seem to solve the Brewers, who have won seven of eight games against Cincinnati. Milwaukee owns the National League’s best record at 48-33.
“These guys have been battling all year and they’re in a good spot right now, so I’m trying to do my best to keep them right there,” Broxton said.
Milwaukee will send out right-hander Jhoulys Chacin (6-3), who has lost his last two decisions Authentic Todd Gurley Jersey , on Saturday to face Reds right-hander Tyler Mahle (6-6), who has won his last three decisions during a span of six starts.
“We’ve got to play better. … Their pitching kind of stifled us the last two nights,” Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “We’ve got to turn it back on … crank it up again with our bats.”
Yelich sat out with a lower back issue. He’s listed as day to day — and so Broxton made his second start since being recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Tuesday.
Broxton had an RBI single in the second against Sal Romano (4-8), then hit the first of his two homers to make the score 2-0 in the fourth. Then, with Milwaukee up 2-1 in the eighth after reliever Michael Lorenzen’s homer for the Reds, Broxton appeared to be caught off third by Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart.
But he eluded a tag by falling down, then scored as Orlando Arcia distracted the Reds by allowing himself to be tagged off second.
Broxton finished quite an evening’s work with a two-run homer in the ninth and a stretched-out catch of Scooter Gennett’s drive into the right-center field gap with two runners on base.
“He’s been up and down (from the minors) a little bit, but he’s very talented,” Riggleman said of Broxton, who hit only .220 while spending most of last season with Milwaukee. “He can do a lot of things — he can hit with power, he can run and he plays great defense.”
The Reds didn’t do much against Brewers starter Chase Anderson, who limited them to one other hit besides Lorenzen’s homer in six innings, and relievers Josh Hader, Jeremy Jeffress and Dan Jennings.
Now, the Brewers would like to get Chacin straightened out. His ERA jumped from 3.18 to 3.82 as he gave up eight runs, nine hits and five walks in 4 1/3 innings during an 8-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday. Chacin is 2-3 in nine career games against the Reds. He didn’t get the decision during a 6-5 Brewers win on April 30.
In Mahle’s only previous start against the Brewers, Thames beat him with a two-run homer in a 2-0 Milwaukee win on April 18.
Clayton Kershaw pitched his way to freedom while earning his first win in 2 1/2 months.
The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner won’t be facing any further restrictions in his next start after a solid outing in the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ 8-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.
Five Dodgers homered including Max Muncy with a pair, and the team’s six homers were the most they’ve hit at home since also launching six on Sept. 9, 2013, against Arizona.
”You want to get guys back in the dugout as fast as possible the way they’re swinging the bats,” said Kershaw, who was limited by a pitch count in his last three outings.
Ivan Nova (4-6) became the first pitcher in Pirates history to give up five homers in a game. Pittsburgh has been outscored 25-4 in the first two games of the series.
”They’re horses over there. It’s a stacked team,” Pirates third baseman David Freese said. ”They’ve just got really good approaches right now and they’re on time JK Scott Jersey , all of them are on time.”
The Dodgers have 11 homers three days into July and 122 so far this season after slugging a major league-leading and franchise-record 55 in June.
”It’s pretty remarkable what we’re doing,” manager Dave Roberts said. ”When I look at what we’ve accomplished offensively, we’re in some uncharted territory.”
Kershaw (2-4) allowed two runs and four hits in six innings of his third start since coming off the disabled list. The left-handed ace’s two strikeouts were against Nova and Kershaw didn’t walk anyone to earn his first victory since April 15 at Arizona. He had two losses and four straight no-decisions since.
”His velo is down a little bit but he’s still got that cutter and he works it. He’s just a guy that locates,” Freese said. ”You can sense when he’s out there that he trusts every pitch he’s about to throw. That’s that makes him really good.”
Kershaw had not gone as late as July 3 with just one win since his rookie year in 2008 when he didn’t earn his second victory until Aug. 7.
”It’s kind of what we wanted,” Roberts said of Kershaw. ”The fifth and sixth innings were probably the best for me. The ball came out well. We can feel confident going forward the reins are off.”
Joc Pederson and Muncy homered back-to-back for the second straight game.
Pederson sent Nova’s first pitch of the game over the right-field wall and Muncy followed with a shot to center field for a 2-0 lead.
”They have a really good lineup but we’ve got to be able to do a better job than that,” Nova said.
Muncy led off the third with his team-high 20th homer for a 3-1 lead.
”I never thought I could hit this many home runs in such a short amount of time,” said Muncy, who has played in just 63 games this season.
Freese provided the lone bright spot for the Pirates, going 3 for 3 with a pair of RBI singles that twice cut the Dodgers’ lead to one run, and a solo homer off reliever Yimi Garcia.
Chris Taylor kept the slugfest going in the fourth with a two-run shot that made it 5-2. He went 3 for 4 with a strikeout and finished a single shy of hitting for the cycle.
”It seems to be contagious up and down the lineup, which makes it fun in the dugout,” Taylor said.
Yasmani Grandal led off the sixth with a homer and Taylor doubled to deep center field to chase Nova.
Nova gave up a season-high seven earned runs and nine hits, struck out three and walked two in five innings.
”It’s not fun to give up that many homers,” Nova said. ”Sometimes you give up that many runs and you don’t feel that bad, but giving up five homers is too much.”
Nova’s replacement didn’t fare any better. Enrique Hernandez blasted a two-run homer on the first pitch from Dovydas Neverauskas, extending the Dodgers’ lead to 8-2.
Dodgers slugger Matt Kemp’s run of eight hits in eight consecutive at-bats ended when he struck out to end the first. One night after tying a career high with five hits, including a three-run homer, Kemp was hitless in four at-bats with two other strikeouts.
Pirates: RHP Joe Musgrove (right index finger infection) went on the DL retroactive to June 30. He was scheduled to start Wednesday’s series finale.
Dodgers: RHP Walker Buehler was moved to the DL retroactive to June 29. He began a rehab assignment for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga.
RHP Clay Holmes (0-0, 2.25 ERA) will replace Musgrove in the series finale on Wednesday. Dodgers LHP Rich Hill (1-3, 4.68) took a no-hitter into extra innings in Pittsburgh last August before allowing a walk-off solo homer in the 10th.