MILWAUKEE — Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell believes there are certain types of games his young team must learn to win as it chases a postseason berth a year after a 100-loss season.
The Reds barely got it done in one of them Tuesday night and moved tantalizingly close to regaining the NL Central lead.
Andrew Abbott pitched six scoreless innings and the Reds withstood Christian Yelich's three-run homer with two outs in the ninth to edge the Milwaukee Brewers 4-3. The Brewers put the tying run on second and potential winning run on first before the Reds got the final out.
“The way that thing ended, you've got to get used to that,” Bell said. “That's what it takes sometimes. That's what it's all about. It's great baseball. It's fun to be a part of. It's never, ever easy.”
Will Benson hit a two-run homer as Cincinnati reduced the Brewers' NL Central lead over the Reds to a half-game. The Brewers and Reds will have their final regular-season meeting Wednesday afternoon, their 13th matchup since the start of June.
“It would be a lot of fun to play them again, but it might be better for both teams to not see each other so frequently,” Abbott said. “We're seeing the same guys in and out.”
The Brewers trailed 4-0 before nearly coming all the way back in the ninth.
One night after hitting a walk-off single in the Brewers' 3-2 victory over the Reds, Yelich ripped an opposite-field shot over the left-field wall off reliever Daniel Duarte to cut Cincinnati's lead to 4-3.
William Contreras then greeted Alexis Díaz with an infield single, though he initially was called out before replays showed he had beaten the throw from third baseman Elly De La Cruz.
After Tyrone Taylor pinch-ran for Contreras and stole second, a 3-2 pitch from Díaz hit Willy Adames in the helmet. Díaz earned his 30th save in 31 opportunities by retiring Andruw Monasterio on a fly to center.
“Everything Alexis did tonight took great composure," Bell said. "It's part of that job. He's been so good in that role. He came in tonight in a tough spot against their best hitters and got it done.”
Since May 25, the Reds have gone 3-9 against the Brewers and 32-9 against everyone else.
The Reds finally got the better of the Brewers on Tuesday thanks largely to Abbott, a rookie left-hander who already has grown accustomed to pitching against them.
Abbott (6-2) has faced the Brewers in four of his 10 career starts. He allowed six runs over 4 1/3 innings in a 7-3 loss at Milwaukee on July 7, but he has given up just two runs over 18 innings the other three times.
“That one time, I was missing middle of the plate, and their hitters are good enough to where they're not going to miss that all the time,” Abbott said. “I think today I did a great job of mixing speeds and going in and out on them.”
He struck out nine and scattered seven hits and one walk Tuesday to improve his ERA to 1.90 and outduel Corbin Burnes (9-6). Abbott has thrown 16 straight scoreless innings.
Burnes entered Tuesday’s game having thrown 15 straight shutout innings. He extended that streak to 18 before running into trouble in the fourth.
After Burnes hit TJ Friedl with a pitch and walked Matt McLain to start the inning, Jonathan India and Joey Votto delivered RBI singles.
“Stuff definitely wasn’t good,” said Burnes, who still allowed only three hits in six innings. “We were able to piece it together. If that’s what we can do without our best stuff, then I’m pretty happy with it.”
Benson made it 4-0 in the top of the ninth with his 418-foot shot to left-center off Bryse Wilson.
The Brewers squandered a couple of opportunities against Abbott.
Milwaukee had runners on first and third with one out in the second but failed to score. Monasterio got thrown out attempting to score from first on Victor Caratini’s two-out double to right in the fourth.
Reds: RHP Vladimir Gutierrez continued his recovery from Tommy John surgery by pitching a simulated game. ... RHP Tejay Antone, also recovering from Tommy John surgery, has been sent to the Reds' Arizona Complex League affiliate to begin a rehabilitation assignment.
Brewers: LHP Wade Miley (elbow) threw a bullpen session Monday and is expected to have another one on Thursday. ... 1B Rowdy Tellez is expected to begin taking swings Wednesday after having 17 stitches removed from his left ring finger.
RHP Ben Lively (4-5, 3.89 ERA) starts for the Reds and RHP Freddy Peralta (6-8, 4.72) pitches for the Brewers.