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Reds Win Opener Of Series Vs. Brewers

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[May 02, 2014]  CINCINNATI  Thursday night was huge for Cincinnati Reds catchers.

Brayan Pena, pinch hitting in the eighth inning, hit a tie-breaking two-run home run, and rookie Tucker Barnhart belted his first career homer and was behind the plate for right-hander Homer Bailey's eight solid innings, lifting Cincinnati to an 8-3 victory over the first-place Milwaukee Brewers in the opener of a four-game series at Great American Ball Park.

"I didn't want to let the skipper down, because he trusted me in that big situation," said Pena. "He gave me an opportunity to come through. I was looking to drive the ball and I got a pitch a little bit up and I took advantage of it."

Third baseman Todd Frazier also hit a two-run home run for Cincinnati (13-15) which now has won five of six games against National League Central opponents.

Milwaukee (20-9), owners of the best record in the major leagues, lost for the third time in five games.

Bailey (2-2) retired 12 of 13 in one stretch before allowing three straight singles, including a two-run double by center fielder Carlos Gomez, which tied the score at 3 in the seventh. He walked one and struck out four in his season-high eight innings.

"He pitched inside really well with his fastball," said Reds manager Bryan Price. "The key to his success often is fastball command. He made a lot of good pitches against a really good lineup."

Bailey, who threw 108 pitches on Thursday, praised Barnhart's effort behind the plate in just his second appearance since being recalled from Triple-A Louisville on Saturday.

"Tucker did an outstanding job behind the plate. For a young guy he really has a good idea of what he's doing behind the plate," Bailey said. "Good for him on the home run. The offense, and our defense really picked me up."

Brewers starter Marco Estrada walked four of six batters in one stretch, including right-fielder Jay Bruce just ahead of Frazier's two-run blast in the sixth that put the Reds ahead 3-1.

"I thought it was a pop fly. I kind of walked to first," said Frazier of his first home run since April 15. "My signature swing, out in front."

Estrada allowed three runs, all on home runs, walked four and struck out six in six innings.

"I left a lot of changeups up," Estrada said. "When I tried to come inside on guys, it wasn't for a strike. It was everything. The curve wasn't that great today. I got away with too much."

In the seventh, Milwaukee handed the game to its talented bullpen, albeit overworked lately.

Brewers relievers owned the fourth-best ERA among relief staffs in the major leagues coming into Thursday's game.

But in the eighth, Pena launched Jim Henderson's first pitch 330 feet into the visitors bullpen in right field to put Cincinnati ahead 5-3.

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Henderson (2-1) allowed five earned runs and four hits in two-thirds of an inning to earn his first defeat.

Then right-hander Rob Wooten, fresh up from Triple-A Nashville, walked Frazier with the bases loaded to force home the Reds' sixth run. Left-fielder Ryan Ludwick followed with a two-run single making the score 8-3.

"Nights like that are going to happen, no doubt," manager Ron Roenicke said. "We've been good down there. We just weren't good tonight."

Thursday's game began with center fielder Billy Hamilton making a sensational diving catch on Gomez's line drive to center. Hamilton, who injured his left hand during the catch, remained in the game but was replaced by Chris Heisey when the Reds came to bat in the bottom half of the inning.

Gomez returned the favor when he made a leaping grab of first baseman Joey Votto's drive up against the center-field wall.

Milwaukee hit Bailey hard in second inning, collecting three straight singles, including a RBI hit by shortstop Jean Segura that put the Brewers up 1-0.

Barnhart's first career homer came on a 1-1 pitch from Estrada leading off the fifth.

NOTES: Reds CF Billy Hamilton left the game with a sprained third and fourth knuckle on his left hand after making a diving catch in the first inning. He is day to day. ... Reds LHP Aroldis Chapman made his first rehab start for Class A Dayton, throwing 18 pitches, 11 for strikes, with two strikeouts in one inning. ... Brewers 1B Mark Reynolds started in right field for just the fourth time in his career. He had made 20 starts this season before Thursday, including 17 at first base and three at third. ... Cincinnati placed LHP Tony Cingrani on the 15-disabled list with left shoulder tendinitis and recalled RHP Curtis Partch from Triple-A Louisville. ... On Thursday, Milwaukee recalled RHP Rob Wooten from Triple-A Nashville and optioned INF/OF Elian Herrera to Triple-A. ... Brewers 2B Scooter Gennett, a Cincinnati native, turned 24 on Thursday.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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