McCoy: Reds drop second straight to Brewers

Milwaukee Brewers' Omar Narvaez, right, grounds out softly to Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Graham Ashcraft, left, during the second inning of a baseball game Saturday, June 18, 2022, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

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Milwaukee Brewers' Omar Narvaez, right, grounds out softly to Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Graham Ashcraft, left, during the second inning of a baseball game Saturday, June 18, 2022, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

If Cincinnati Reds rookie pitcher Graham Ashcraft has learned anything during his last two starts, it is called, “It ain’t that easy.”

His first three starts were nearly impeccable, and he quickly started his career 3-0.

His last two starts, though, were pedestrian … a couple of steps backward.

On Saturday afternoon in Great American Ball Park, the Milwaukee Brewers touched up the big right-hander for six runs and eight hits in five innings.

And the Brewers used those runs to score a 7-3 victory, their second straight win in a three-game series. The Reds are on a three-game losing skid.

Milwaukee’s full-game effort was 11 hits that included three doubles and two home runs. Amazingly, the Brewers were 2 for 15 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11.

In contrast, the Reds had nine hits — eight singles and a double.

In Ashcraft’s previous start, the St. Louis Cardinals reached him for four runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings, though Ashcraft was not charged with the loss.

Ashcraft was in immediate trouble when Christian Yelich opened the game with a single to left field and took second on Tommy Pham’s throwing error. Yelich scored on Rowdy Tellez’s double up the right-center gap.

The Brewers scored three times in the third when Yelich singled, Willy Adames homered, Tellez walked and Luis Urias doubled for a 4-0 lead.

Milwaukee’s starter, 29-year-old rookie Jason Alexander, held the Reds to one run through five innings.

The Reds put their first two runners on base to open the fifth, a single by Nick Senzel and a walk to Mike Moustakas. But the only run that came of it was on a two-out error by shortstop Adames.

When the first two Brewers reached to open the sixth, a full-count walk to Omar Narvaez and a bloop single by Tyrone Taylor — Ashcraft’s day was done.

Reiver Sanmartin replaced him and promptly gave up a two-run double to Jace Peterson that took a high hop over first baseman Moustakas’ head. Both runs were added to Ashcraft’s account.

The Reds finally chased Alexander in the sixth with two runs — singles by Pham, Kyle Farmer and Nick Senzel for one and a deep sacrifice fly by Moustakas to the wall in left center. That cut Milwaukee’s advantage to 6-3.

Luis Cessa arrived to pitch the seventh and the first batter he faced, Hunter Renfroe, launched a home run into the left-field seats.

Both Renfroe and Adames homered for the second straight game and the Brewers hit five in the first two games. Renfroe has four home runs in GABP this season.

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