When Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell found out the Brewers had traded for Neil Walker, he immediately wanted to know if he could get the veteran infielder into the lineup for Sunday’s game against Cincinnati.
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After collecting just 3 1/2 hours of sleep, Walker arrived in plenty of time to collect a pair of hits in his Milwaukee debut, helping the Brewers to a 7-4 victory over the Reds.
“It is easier, in my opinion, to get thrown in the fire and see how it goes,” Walker said. “I was happy to not be out of the lineup for two straight days.”
Domingo Santana hit a three-run homer for Milwaukee, and Ryan Braun had two hits and drove in a run. The Brewers took the last two games of the weekend series after dropping six in a row.
Walker came over in a trade with the New York Mets on Saturday. He started at third base in place of the banged-up Travis Shaw and went 2 for 4 with a run scored.
“He played a position that he hasn’t played a ton this year and made some very nice plays,” Counsell said. “He handled it very professionally like he’s been over there. He had quality at-bats. It was a good spot today. We needed him with Travis being out.”
Brewers starter Matt Garza (6-6) allowed four runs, three earned, and five hits in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out two and walked five.
Jeremy Jeffress got two outs, Jacob Barnes tossed two scoreless innings and All-Star Corey Knebel worked the ninth for his 22nd save. Jesse Winker singled with two out, but Joey Votto flied out to left to end the game.
The Brewers jumped on Sal Romano for three runs in the first inning. Jonathan Villar drew a leadoff walk and scored on Braun’s double. Walker followed with a single to right field that Winker misplayed, allowing Braun to score.
Manny Pina made it 3-0 by dropping a ball just fair down the right-field line for a ground-rule double that scored Walker.
Adam Duvall’s two-run homer got Cincinnati within one in the fourth, but Eric Sogard tripled and scored on Hernan Perez’s squeeze bunt in the bottom half of the inning. Santana then provided the big blow in the fifth, driving a 1-0 fastball from Romano (2-5) over the wall in right-center for a 7-2 lead.
“That three-run homer to Santana really cost us,” Romano said. “I’ve just got to be able to get that guy out in that situation.”
Votto went 0 for 3, ending his career-best 17-game hitting streak. He did draw a pair of walks to extend his run of reaching base at least twice to 18 games, the longest streak since Barry Bonds reached multiple times in 20 consecutive games in 2004.
Reds: RHP Austin Brice was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a right lat strain suffered in Saturday night’s loss to the Brewers. RHP Robert Stephenson was activated from the DL, and he pitched two hitless innings.
Reds: RHP Asher Wojciechowski (3-1, 4.23 ERA) takes the ball for the opener of a four-game series against the Cubs. The rookie has a 1.93 ERA in two starts and six relief appearances since being recalled from Triple-A Louisville on July 2.