McCoy: Brewers handle Montas, Reds

Joe Ross hadn’t put his spikes on a major league pitching rubber for nearly 2 1/2 years until a few days ago.

So he was making his second MLB start since August of 2021 when he faced the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night in Great American Ball Park.

The 30-year-old Milwaukee Brewers right-hander is coming back from not one, but two Tommy John surgeries.

The Reds saw no hint of rust as Ross pitched like a Cy Young candidate as his buddies pounded Frankie Montas and the Reds for a 9-5 Brewers victory.

The Reds tried desperately to make another miraculous late-innings comeback after falling behind, 9-1. They scored four runs in the seventh and eighth and put two on with no outs in the ninth.

But the last three Reds all struck out. Strikeouts and leaving runners in scoring position continue to flummox the 6-5 Reds. They struck out 12 times Tuesday and strike out in double figures nearly every night. And they were 3 for 15 with runners in scoring position.

Ross was an efficient well-oiled machine, needing only 87 pitches for his 6 1/3 innings. The Reds scored only one run on five hits while Ross was on the mound, and he struck out seven.

His teammates, especially the bottom third of the order, gave him all the comfort he needed in applying the first defeat of the season on Montas, who was 2-0 in his first two starts.

The bottom three hitters for the Brewers, the second youngest roster in the majors, produced seven hits, scored five runs, and drove in four.

Montas retired the first six Brewers but walked Sal Frelick on a full count to open the third and it led to three runs.

Brice Turang doubled and No. 9 hitter Blake Perkins singled for two runs and stole second, enabling him to score on Christian Yelich’s two-out single.

Yelich has been on base in 21 straight games, dating back to last season.

Perkins led off the fourth with a bunt single and with one out, William Contreras hit a potential inning-ending double play ball to shortstop Elly De La Cruz.

But he threw wide of second base for an error, putting runners on third and second. Yelich, a long-time pain in the posterior to the Reds, pulled a two-run double to right and it was 5-0.

The Reds threatened a comeback in their fourth.

Christian Encarnacion-Strand, 1 for his 19, poked a leadoff single to left. With one out, Jake Fraley singled and De La Cruz doubled for a run.

It was 5-1 with runners on third and second and Mr. Clutch, Spencer Steer, at the plate. He was 7 for 14 with two homers and two doubles this season with runners in scoring position.

This time, he worked a full count … then struck out. And Nick Martini followed suit as Ross struck him out, too.

The Brewers added a run in the sixth and three more in the seventh against Reds relief pitcher Carson Spiers. A two-run double by Jake Bauers and a two-out single by Frelick made it 9-1.

The Reds made late-game noise, but the deficit was too big to overcome.

They scored two in the seventh on Tyler Stephenson’s two-run double and two in the eighth on run-producing doubles by Jake Fraley and Steer.

The late surge cut Milwaukee’s lead to 9-5 and with Milwaukee closer Devin Willliams on the injured list, Abner Uribe was handed the ball for the ninth.

Stephenson led off with a single. Uribe threw three 100 mph fastballs to Jonathan India, all balls, then walked him on a full-count slider, putting runners on second and first with no outs.

Then came a wild pitch that moved the runners to third and second and thoughts of another comeback surfaced.

Will Benson worked the count to 3-and-2 and struck out. Encarnacion-Strand struck out on three pitches and Jeimer Candelario struck out … and that was that.

Former Reds pitcher Wade Miley comes off the disabled list Wednesday for his first start of the year against Cincinnati’s Hunter Greene.

About the Author