CINCINNATI — When Brewers pitchers went over the strengths and weaknesses of Cincinnati’s hitters to prepare for their series, they included reliever Michael Lorenzen in the mix.
They need to do more studying.
Lorenzen hit the second grand slam by a Reds pitcher in a week — and his third homer in his last three at-bats — as Cincinnati pulled away to a 12-3 victory Saturday, ending a seven-game losing streak against Milwaukee.
Lorenzen’s pinch-hit grand slam off Jacob Barnes in the seventh inning completed an eight-run rally, Cincinnati’s biggest of the season. Lorenzen’s fifth career homer drew a curtain call from the crowd of 24,640.
“It was a surreal feeling, for sure,” Lorenzen said. “I love this game and everything about it.”
It was the reliever’s second homer in the series. He also had a solo shot Friday during Milwaukee’s 8-2 win.
“The guy’s swinging the bat really well, that’s for sure,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “We treat him as a position player. We covered him in scouting meetings. We’re going to have to make some adjustments.”
One week earlier, Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani hit a grand slam off Cubs left-hander Brian Duensing at Great American Ball Park.
Lorenzen avoided the temptation to swing at a slider, and then hit a fastball deep to left field.
“The Reds have always put together some good-hitting pitchers, going back to Travis Wood and those guys,” Brewers catcher Erik Kratz said. “You have to know who those guys are and where they want the ball and not throw it there.”
The last pinch-hit grand slam by a Reds player came from Chris Heisey on April 13, 2014, against Tampa Bay. Lorenzen’s three homers this season are the most by a Reds pitcher since Micah Owings had three in 2009. The last major league pitcher to homer in three straight at-bats was Colorado’s Mike Hampton in 2001.
Tyler Mahle struck out a career-high 12 batters in 5q innings, three shy of the Reds’ rookie record. David Hernandez (3-0) pitched the top of the seventh. The Reds fanned 18 batters, a club record for a nine-inning game.
The Brewers’ depleted bullpen couldn’t hold a one-run lead in the seventh. Cincinnati’s first eight batters reached safely against three relievers, with left-hander Mike Zagurski (0-1) taking the loss in his first major-league appearance since 2013.
The NL Central leaders also were missing two starting position players. Christian Yelich left Thursday’s game with back tightness, and Ryan Braun came out of Friday’s game with the same issue. Counsell said Braun could be available for today’s series finale.
Eric Thames homered off Mahle, his 14th home run in 22 career games against Cincinnati. Thames hit 10 last year, the most by a Brewers player against the Reds in one season.
With the game out of hand, Kratz moved to the mound for the eighth inning — his third career pitching appearance — and gave up a pair of runs.
“I’d rather catch nine innings and do high-fives,” he said.
Brewers RHP Zach Davies had a setback in what was expected to be his final minor league rehab assignment as he recovers from a sore shoulder.
He lasted only three innings and gave up 10 runs and three hits for Class A Wisconsin on Friday night, leaving after just 48 pitches because of a sore back.
Brewers: Freddy Peralta (3-0, 1.59 ERA) makes his fifth start today. The Brewers are 4-0 in his starts. Opponents are batting .093 against the right-hander.
Reds: Matt Harvey (3-5, 5.28 ERA) makes his 10th start for the Reds, who got him from the Mets in a trade for catcher Devin Mesoraco on May 8. Harvey has allowed six runs in his last three starts spanning 17q innings.