Reds look to continue ascent in opener vs. Brewers

MLB Baseball

The Cincinnati Reds are heating up in time for an ideal opportunity to cut into the Milwaukee Brewers’ National League Central lead.

Looking to continue their recent success at Milwaukee, the visiting Reds will play the first of seven straight games against the Brewers on Thursday night. The teams will follow their four-game series with a three-game set after the All-Star break.

Second-place Cincinnati sits six games behind the Brewers but has allowed 20 runs while going 6-1 in July. The Reds yielded just four runs in sweeping a three-game series in June at Milwaukee, where they’ve won their past five games dating to last season.

“Everybody in this clubhouse wants to win, and it’s a beautiful thing,” Reds rookie infielder Jonathan India told Fox 19.

India had three hits with two RBIs in Cincinnati’s 5-2 win at Kansas City on Wednesday and is batting .333 over his past 13 games.

Milwaukee snapped a three-game slide — which followed a season-high 11 consecutive victories — by winning 5-0 in the nightcap of Wednesday’s road doubleheader with the New York Mets.

Scheduled Cincinnati starter Tyler Mahle (7-3, 3.63 ERA) hasn’t earned a winning decision since June 16, when he allowed a run, three hits, two walks and matched a career high with 12 strikeouts over six innings of a 2-1 win at Milwaukee. The right-hander’s previous 12-strikeout game came against the Brewers in 2018.

On Saturday, Mahle overcame four walks and five hits to surrender just one earned run while fanning seven over five innings in a no-decision against the Chicago Cubs.

Milwaukee’s Keston Hiura has four plate appearances with three hits — including two solo homers — against Mahle. Teammate Willy Adames hasn’t faced Mahle and is batting .333 (10-for-30) with three home runs and six RBIs in his past eight games.

Adames has hit .289 and homered nine times with 30 RBIs while the Brewers have gone 31-13 since they acquired him on May 21 from Tampa Bay. He batted just .197 in 41 contests with the Rays this season.

“It’s hard to quantify, but he’s been enormous,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell told The New York Times. “He’s been an incredible player. … The impact he’s had on our team has been huge.”

The Brewers are slated to counter with Adrian Houser (5-5, 3.94), who allowed just one run and four hits over 6 2/3 innings of a 7-2 victory at Pittsburgh on Friday. The right-hander yielded nine runs over 11 innings in his previous two starts.

Houser has posted two very different starts against the Reds this season — both at Cincinnati. On May 21, he allowed six runs, with five coming on two solo homers by Jesse Winker and a three-run shot by Tyler Naquin during the 9-4 defeat. Then on June 8, Houser gave up a run over 5 1/3 innings of a 5-1 victory.

The All-Star Winker is a stellar 9-for-16 with five solo home runs all-time vs. Houser. Winker is batting .394 (13-for-33) with five of his career-high 19 homers and seven RBIs against Milwaukee this season. However, he’s 1-for-19 in his past five games overall.

Teammates Nick Castellanos, Eugenio Suarez and Joey Votto have combined to bat .349 (15-for-43) with four homers against him.

–Field Level Media

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