(AP) Votto and Choo homer, Reds beat Brewers 7-3
By GENARO C. ARMAS
AP Sports Writer
Joey Votto and Shin-Soo Choo each hit two-run homers, and the Cincinnati Reds kept pace in the NL Central race with a 7-3 win Saturday over the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Reds entered Saturday trailing the division-leading Cardinals by 3 1/2 games and the second-place Pirates by a game. Both teams play later Saturday.
Cincinnati is also trying to fend off Washington in the wild-card race. The Nationals, on a seven-game winning streak, entered Saturday having pulled within 4 1/2 games of the Reds.
Homer Bailey (11-10) allowed three runs over seven innings in winning his career-best sixth straight decision. Votto had three RBIs, including the towering drive off the right field foul pole in the sixth.
The Brewers loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth trailing by four, but All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman struck out pinch-hitter Jonathan Lucroy.
Chapman tossed a scoreless ninth to finish off his 36th save.
The Reds jumped on starter Johnny Hellweg (1-4) with four runs over the first two innings.
Chapman stopped a rally in the eighth to give manager Dusty Baker’s club just the spark it needed after having lost three of the previous four.
With two men on, Jeff Bianchi drew a 3-2 walk off reliever Sam LeCure to load the bases for Lucroy.
Baker responded by bringing in Chapman early in the eighth. The last time he faced the hard-throwing closer, on Aug. 16 at Miller Park, Lucroy hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to give Milwaukee a 7-6 win.
Same ballpark, different result.
This time, Lucroy swung at a 100 mph heater in the dirt. The ball skipped past the plate and bounced off the backstop, though catcher Devin Mesoraco retrieved it in time to throw out Lucroy at first.
Chapman walked two with one out in the ninth, but struck out the last two batters to end the game.
Carlos Gomez had two hits and an RBI for the Brewers, while Jean Segura stole his NL-leading 43rd base of the season.
They got outmuscled by Choo and Votto at the plate.
Choo reached on a walk with one out in the sixth. One out later, Votto turned on a fastball from reliever Michael Blazek for his 23rd homer and a 6-3 lead. The big first baseman contorted his body at the plate as if trying to will the ball to stay fair down the line.
Bailey allowed five hits, with the Brewers causing all their damage in the fourth. Khris Davis, back in the lineup after missing more than a week with a sore left wrist, doubled home Scooter Gennett.
Carlos Gomez singled home Davis. The speedy Gomez then stole his 36th base before advancing home on two consecutive sacrifice flies to get Milwaukee to 4-3.
Votto’s homer two innings later gave the Reds a three-run cushion again.
Choo hit his 21st homer of the year after pouncing on a 1-0 changeup in the second from Hellweg, who was making his fifth career major league start.
A rookie known for his power sinker, Hellweg struggled to keep the ball down in the zone. Hellweg hit three batters and allowed eight hits and four runs in five innings.
NOTES: Brewers 3B Aramis Ramirez (left wrist) was unavailable after being hit by a pitch Friday night. He was considered day to day … Milwaukee is testing different tinting and shading on windows near the roof down the right-field line in an effort to help reduce glare during day games. The team hopes to have its chosen option in place for next season.