MILWAUKEE — When Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell found out the Brewers had traded for Neil Walker, he immediately wanted to know if he could get the veteran infielder into the lineup for Sunday’s game against Cincinnati.
After collecting just 3 1/2 hours of sleep, Walker arrived in plenty of time to collect a pair of hits in his Milwaukee debut, helping the Brewers to a 7-4 victory over the Reds.
“It is easier, in my opinion, to get thrown in the fire and see how it goes,” Walker said. “I was happy to not be out of the lineup for two straight days.”
Domingo Santana hit a three-run homer for Milwaukee, and Ryan Braun had two hits and drove in a run.
The Brewers took the last two games of the weekend series after dropping six in a row.
Walker came over in a trade with the New York Mets on Saturday. He started at third base in place of the banged-up Travis Shaw and went 2 for 4 with a run scored.
“He played a position that he hasn’t played a ton this year and made some very nice plays,” Counsell said. “He handled it very professionally like he’s been over there. He had quality at-bats. It was a good spot today. We needed him with Travis being out.”
Brewers starter Matt Garza (6-6) allowed four runs, three earned, and five hits in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out two and walked five.
Jeremy Jeffress got two outs, Jacob Barnes tossed two scoreless innings and All-Star Corey Knebel worked the ninth for his 22nd save. Jesse Winker singled with two out, but Joey Votto flied out to left to end the game.
The Brewers jumped on Sal Romano for three runs in the first inning. Jonathan Villar drew a leadoff walk and scored on Braun’s double. Walker followed with a single to right field that Winker misplayed, allowing Braun to score.
Manny Pina made it 3-0 by dropping a ball just fair down the right-field line for double that scored Walker.
Adam Duvall’s two-run homer got Cincinnati within one in the fourth, but Eric Sogard tripled and scored on Hernan Perez’s squeeze bunt in the bottom half of the inning. Santana then provided the big blow in the fifth, driving a 1-0 fastball from Romano (2-5) over the wall in right-center for a 7-2 lead.
“That three-run homer to Santana really cost us,” Romano said. “I’ve just got to be able to get that guy out in that situation.”
Lucas Lindner, an Eden, Wisconsin resident who regained the use of his hands and arms following a severe spinal cord injury suffered in a car accident, threw out an honorary first pitch. Lindner received treatment in a clinical trial at Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee to the injured area of his spinal cord following the May 2016 accident.
Following an off day Monday, RHP Zach Davies (13-6, 4.40 ERA) starts against the Pirates on Tuesday. Davies is looking to bounce back after he allowed six earned runs in 5 2/3 innings in a 7-2 loss to Minnesota on Thursday.
Shaw was out of the lineup after fouling a pair of pitches off his right leg Saturday. With an off day Monday, Counsell expects Shaw to be able to play Tuesday against Pittsburgh. ... LHP Brent Suter was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a left rotator cuff strain. ... RHP Chase Anderson (strained left oblique) allowed four runs over 4 1/3 innings in a rehab start for Triple-A Colorado Springs. ... C Stephen Vogt (left knee sprain) went 1 for 4 in his third rehab game with Class A Wisconsin ... RHP Anthony Swarzak was unavailable Sunday due to a stiff neck.