CINCINNATI — Another day, another Cincinnati grand slam.
Jose Peraza kept up the parade of slams, sending Matt Harvey and the Reds over the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers 8-2 on Sunday.
Cincinnati’s first six batters reached base against previously unbeaten rookie Freddy Peralta, who’d allowed just a .093 opponents’ batting average (7 for 75) in his first four starts, all Milwaukee wins. He recovered from throwing 43 pitches in the first inning to retire the last 10 and 15 of the last 16 batters he faced.
“It started out rough,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. “He righted it. It was cool to see him right it. That’s a lesson that you’ve got to get it going right away or a big league team will take advantage of it. I thought he handled it very well.”
Harvey (4-5) allowed two hits in 5q innings and won his third straight start as the Reds salvaged a split of the four-game series.
Ryan Braun’s two-run homer in the ninth allowed the Brewers to avoid their 11th shutout loss of the season. The homer gave the Brewers at least one in each of their last 19 games at Great American Ball Park, the longest streak by any team, including the Reds.
Peraza connected in the sixth inning for the Reds’ major league-leading ninth slam this year, tying the single-season franchise record set in 2002. It was Cincinnati’s second in two games and third in the last eight — pitcher Mike Lorenzen had a pinch-hit slam Saturday, and pitcher Anthony DeSclafani went deep with the bases loaded on June 24 against the Cubs.
“I just tried to hit the ball,” the shortstop said. “When I hit the ball in the sky, I say, ‘Wow, it’s a home run.’ Everybody is happy.”
Peraza hit his first career slam, tagging reliever Aaron Wilkerson.
Eight different Reds have hit grand slams. Adam Duvall is the only player with two.
The last-place Reds have won 11 of 14, and the last eight of 11 against teams that were in first place when their series started.
“We know we can play with these guys (division leaders),” manager Jim Riggleman said. “We’ve got to go through those guys and win our share.”
Joey Votto, National League RBI leader Eugenio Suarez and Scott Schebler had consecutive run-scoring singles in the first inning against Peralta (3-1).
Harvey, acquired in May from the Mets, struck out six and walked none. The right-hander didn’t return after a 54-minute rain delay.
“It was one of those when you come in and try to do as much as you can,” Harvey said. “You come in and put a heat pack on, but once it creeps up to an hour ... That’s the best I’ve felt in a long time. I could smell the CG (complete game) coming or at least getting deep in the game. I was pretty much in control the whole time, but I’m happy about the outing and another Reds win.”
Pitching in a gametime temperature of 93 humid degrees, Harvey retired the first 12 batters before Travis Shaw outflanked a defensive shift with an opposite-field single to left leading off the fifth.
The Brewers optioned .197-hitting SS Orlando Arcia to Triple-A Colorado Springs before the game. “He’s been a good major league hitter,” Counsell said. “He’s been a dominant minor league hitter. We’re confident he will get things going again.” ... OF Christian Yelich took some swings before Sunday’s game, the third he’d missed since leaving Thursday’s game with a tight lower back. ... LHP Brent Suter (8-5, 4.28 ERA) is 6-2 with a 3.50 ERA over his last eight starts. He gets the start today at Miller Park, where the Brewers open up a three-game interleague series with Minnesota. RHP Kyle Gibson (2-6, 3.48 ERA) will go for the Twins.