Wade Miley pitched six strong innings and the Milwaukee Brewers made a first-inning run stand up in a 1-0 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday.
The victory pulled the Brewers (49-42) to within a game of the NL Central-leading Reds heading into the All-Star break. Milwaukee took two of three in the series.
A trio of Brewers relievers - Elvis Peguero, Joel Payamps and All-Star Devin Williams - combined to complete the shutout, Milwaukee's eighth of the season. Williams retired the side in order in the ninth to earn his 20th save in 22 tries.
“Really great pitching today. That’s a lineup that’s scored a lot of runs. To keep them a zero is really impressive," Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said.
Christian Yelich led off the Brewers half of the first with a ground-rule double off Ben Lively (4-5) to extend his hitting streak to nine consecutive games. Yelich scored on Jesse Winker’s two-out single to center. The Brewers scored in the first inning in all three games in the series.
“Whenever Yeli is on, I just try to put the ball in play over the infield," Winker said. "That’s all you need to do. Just put the ball in play and watch him run.”
The Brewers are 5-2 against the Reds this season and have won both series. It was Cincinnati's first road series loss since May 15-17 at Colorado. The Reds had won seven consecutive road series. Despite the loss, the Reds have won 20 of their last 25 road games.
“I don’t know if anybody is going to run away with this thing," Yelich said. "It’s going to be pretty tightly contested. Every game matters.”
After giving up a lead-off double to Kevin Newman in the first, Miley (6-2) retired nine consecutive batters before Matt McLain doubled to start the fourth. Miley then struck out the next three batters to get out of the inning. Miley walked three batters in the fifth but, aided by a double play, didn’t allow a run. The Reds threatened again off Miley in the sixth after consecutive singles by Jonathan India and Elly De La Cruz, but again failed to score.
Miley gave up four hits and tied a season high with eight strikeouts. He credited batterymate William Contreras for coming up with a plan to keep Reds hitters off balance.
"I thought Willie was outstanding back there today. I kind of went a different route than what I normally do," he said.
The performance impressed Reds manager David Bell. Miley pitched for Cincinnati in 2020 and 2021.
’We’ve seen Wade Miley a lot, and we’ve seen him pitch really well, but I don’t know if I’ve seen him like that," Bell said. “That was really, really good. I know our hitters expected to score some runs, but Wade really pitched well. He was throwing hard, he looked great out there.”
Lively, making his first appearance since June 20 after a stint on the injured list with a right pectoral muscle strain, retired 13 of 14 batters at one point. He gave up four hits and one run in 5 2/3 innings while walking two and striking out five.
The Reds reinstated Lively from the 15-day injured list and designated for assignment RHP Michael Mariot.
Reds: OF T.J. Friedl was in pain after fouling a ball off the inside of his right foot in the fifth but remained in the game.
The 2 hour and 4 minute game tied for the shortest since the Brewers' ballpark opened in 2001, matching a contest between Milwaukee and the Dodgers on Sept. 6, 2006. “I’ve got a flight to catch. It’s perfect," Winker said.
The Reds (50-41) are in first place this late in a full season for the time since the end of the 2012 campaign, when they last won the Central Division (97-65). The Reds were 34-57 at this point last season and 15 games back in the division.
The Brewers played their 17th game in as many days. Counsell praised the team’s five mainstay relievers (Hoby Milner, Bryse Wilson, Joel Payamps, Elvis Peguero and Devin Williams) for their effort during the grueling stretch. “They’ve done a great job. Really, just proud of them,” Counsell said. “They’ve been warriors through this whole thing and gone after it every day."
The Reds and Brewers meet in Cincinnati for a three-game series beginning Friday, following the All-Star break.