McCoy: Reds bash first-place Brewers

Vladimir Gutierrez is a rookie who pitches as if he was born on a pitching mound with a baseball in his right hand.

That had to be what the Milwaukee Brewers thought after the 25-year-old Gutierrez shut them down Monday night in Miller Park.

Gutierrez, pitching in only his fourth major league game, held the first-place Brewers to two runs and four hits over six innings as the fast-charging Reds scored a 10-2 victory.

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It was Gutierrez’s second win over the Brewers in a week, a team that had won 14 of its previous 16 games.

And the 10 runs gave the Reds 11 games this season in which they’ve scored in double digits, most in the majors.

Coupled with the Chicago Cubs loss to the New York Mets, the Reds pulled within four games of first place, occupied by both the Brewers and Cubs. While making their charge toward the top of the National League Central standings the Reds have won 11 of their last 14.

After a wobbly start, two runs and four hits in the first two innings, Gutierrez retired 13 of the last 14 Brewers he faced.

“I was feeling a little bit anxious at the start of the game,” he said. “My rhythm felt quick and I felt like I wanted to throw 97 out there. That’s asking a little bit too much.

“So I thought about it, made my own adjustments, remember what I did in my previous three starts which worked well for me. I thought about it and went back to that, really composed myself, and it worked for me the rest of the game,” he said.

Manager David Bell is more than duly impressed with what Gutierrez is doing.

“He got stronger toward the end, just kept pitching,” he said after permitting the muscular right hander to throw 110 pitches. “He is still a young pitcher but, man, to step in and handle situations the way he has is the most impressive thing. He has competed, hasn’t backed down.”

Gutierrez is a major player in the resurgence of the Reds and says the best is coming.

“I’m very grateful I have an opportunity to compete with these guys,” he said. “With the squad that we have we seem like we’re deemed to get to the World Series. I was talking with Nick Castellanos and Wade Miley the other day and with the people we have right now, I can see us getting to the World Series.”

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Gutierrez, 3-1 with a 2.74 earned run average, was aided and abetted by Joey Votto, who drove in three runs, two on a home run. Votto has driven in runs in six straight games, 11 RBI.

The Reds jumped on Milwaukee starter and Kent State University product Eric Lauer with deadly precision in the first two innings.

Jonathan India, who reached base four times with three hits and a walk, plus a stolen base, opened the game with a single. Jesse Winker walked on four pitches. Tyler Stephenson walked to fill the bases with one out and Votto’s grounder to first scored a run.

Milwaukee’s bulky first baseman, Daniel Vogelbach, tied it in the bottom of the first with his third home run in a week against the Reds.

The Reds scored three in the second, beginning with a four-pitch walk to Aristides Aquino, playing his first game after coming off the injured list.

Aquino played center field and chased down two hard-hit line drives. And he crushed a two-run home run during a four-run ninth inning. After his walk, Kyle Farmer singled, India doubled for a run, Jesse Winker singled for a run and the third run scored on a fielder’s choice by Nick Castellanos.

“It’s great to have Aquino back,” said Bell. “The two-run homer was big, but he made some really nice plays in center field. He is moving as well as I’ve seen him over the last few years. The ability to play center field really helps him to get more playing time.”

The Brewers scored a run in the second to pull within 4-2 on a single by Jace Peterson, a double by Jackie Bradley Jr., and a sacrifice fly by Lauer.

Votto gave Gutierrez and the bullpen some breathing room in the seventh with a two-run home run off submarine relief pitcher Eric Yardley that lifted the margin to 6-2.

The Reds put it away in the ninth on a double by Stephenson, a single by Votto and a two-run single by Eugenio Suarez for an 8-2 lead. And then Aquino unloaded a second deck home run, a monumental blast by The Punisher to make it 10-2.

After Gutierrez left, Heath Hembree struck out the side in the seventh, Amir Garrett pitched a 1-2-3 eight with two strikeouts. Art Warren pitched a 1-2-3 ninth with a strikeout.

That gave the bullpen three perfect innings with six strikeouts.

TUESDAY’S GAME

Reds at Brewers, 8:10 p.m., Bally Sports Ohio, 700, 1410