CINCINNATI – Two unexpected heroes keyed the Cincinnati Reds’ move to catch the division leaders.
Alfredo Simon moved into a tie for the National League lead with his 11th win and Billy Hamilton homered as the Reds snapped a three-game losing streak with a 4-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday night.
Simon was a replacement in the rotation for Mat Latos, who missed the first two months of the season. The right-hander has never thrown more than 115 2/3 innings in his career. He has 110 with 77 games left in the season,
Every time I go out, I just try to do my best, the 33-year old said. I keep trying to put zeroes on the board. I’ve never had 11 wins before but my arm is like a 20-year old.
Before a crowd of 42,120, Cincinnati’s fifth sellout of the season, Simon helped the Reds take a 2-0 lead in the third inning. He lined a single with one out, and Hamilton followed on the next pitch with a 344-foot home run into the visitors’ bullpen down the right field line. It was the fifth of the season for June’s National League Rookie of the Month.
Hamilton hit just six homers at Triple-A Louisville last season, his first full season as a switch hitter.
Hamilton took advantage of one of the few mistakes Kyle Lohse made, Reds manager Bryan Price said. It is not just the home runs. It is the evolution of the player that is impressive. He’s done a lot of things we didn’t know that he was able to do this soon in his career.
Hamilton guessed right on Lohse’s pitch selection.
He threw me some changeups my first time up, Hamilton said. I was looking for one that time. Home runs are surprises. It just happens. I put the same swing on every pitch.
Hamilton saved Simon with a leaping catch off the bat of Ryan Braun, leading off the sixth.
The guys take a lot of pride in their defense, Price said. A lot of them want to win Gold Gloves.
Skip Schumaker and Joey Votto had run-scoring doubles for the Reds, who were coming off being swept in a three-game series at San Diego.
Simon (11-3), making his career-high 17th start, overcame Jonathan Lucroy’s home run to move into a tie with the Dodgers’ Zack Greinke and the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright for the NL lead in wins.
The Central Division-leading Brewers dropped their fourth straight, matching their longest losing streak of the season.
Simon gave up six hits and two runs with two walks, three strikeouts and a wild pitch in 7 1/3 innings to improve to 5-0 over his last seven starts.
Jonathan Broxton got the final two outs of the eighth and Aroldis Chapman got his 17th save.