When it comes to a Battle of the Bullpens, few teams match up against the Milwaukee Brewers.
And the Cincinnati Reds are about the least challenging of all.
It was oh so apparent Friday night in Great American Ball Park when the first-place Brewers hung an 11-6 shiner on the Reds.
It pushed the Brewers five games ahead of the Reds in the National League Central Division race.
The Brewers, down 4-1 early in the game, scored six runs over the last 3 2/3 innings against the Reds bullpen. The Reds scored two runs over the final five innings against the Brewers bullpen, one coming on a meaningless two-out home run in the ninth by Aristides Aquino.
And because the Brewers scored five runs in the eighth inning against Josh Osich and Ryan Hendrix, Milwaukee didn’t have to use its two bullpen beasts, Devin Williams and Josh Hader.
Coming in, after the four-day All-Star break, the Reds had won nine of 11 while the Brewers had lost six of eight.
Things looked positive for the Reds when they scored two in the first against Milwaukee starter Adrian Hauser on Tyler Naquin’s two-out, two-run double.
Avisail Garcia homered off Reds starter Tyler Mahle in the second, but the Reds scored two in the third on a two-run double by Eugenio Suarez to give Cincinnati a 4-1 lead.
Kolten Wong, who had three hits, singled with one out in the fifth and Willy Adames lobbed a two-out, two-run home run into the first row of the right field seats, cutting Cincinnati’s lead to 4-3.
The Reds pushed their lead to 5-3 in their fifth when second baseman Wong made his first error of the season on Naquin’s grounder and he scored on Tucker Barnhart’s single.
And that was it for the Reds.
The Brewers scored three in the sixth off Mahle and reliever Amir Garrett. Mahle issued a walk and a one-out double to Luis Urias that sliced Cincinnati’s lead to 5-4.
Garrett came in and gave up a run-scoring single to left-handed No. 8 batter Jackie Bradley Jr., who was hitting .167. That tied it and Wong untied it with a single for a 6-5 Brewers lead.
Then it got away big time in the eighth, a five-run frame that began with a home run by Urias and got ugly when Hendrix threw two pitches to the backstop, enabling two runs to score on the pair of wild pitches.
The Reds suffered two losses. All-Star Nick Castellanos was hit by a pitch on the left hand leading off the third and left the game. Three Reds batters were hit, raising their total to 70 times they’ve been hit, most in the majors.
“It is not broken, but pretty sore,” Bell said of Castellanos’ hand. “It is a little early to tell about tomorrow or this weekend. It is great news that it is not broken. We got lucky. It got him in a spot that easily could have been broken.”
Of the Reds being human targets all season, Bell said, “It is unfortunately a part of the game. There is a difference when it is intentional and when it’s not. It has never crossed my mind at all (that they are intentional).
“We can’t control it. You never want to see your guys get hit, but there is a difference. Usually you can have a pretty good sense … you can feel when it is intentional and when it’s not. That’s not what’s happening. We do get hit a lot and we don’t take it lightly.”
Brewers at Reds, 1:10 p.m., Bally Sports Ohio, 700, 1410