Winning a series at Miller Park for the first time in 16 months isn't likely to be easy for the Cincinnati Reds .
That's because they must face red-hot Milwaukee Brewers starter Yovani Gollardo, who will try to slow the Reds' push for a playoff spot Sunday.
After dropping three of four, including a 5-1 loss to open this three-game set, Cincinnati (84-65) bounced back with a 7-3 victory Saturday. That helped the Reds stay close in a three-team battle for the NL Central while maintaining their advantage over surging Washington for the second wild-card spot.
"Every game, from my perspective, it's as important in April as it is in September," said Joey Votto , who hit his 23rd home run. "But, we've got a pretty good idea of what's happening around you. You have an idea of who's behind you and who's ahead of you, how many games you need to make up."
Cincinnati had dropped eight of 11 at Miller Park, where its last series win was May 7-9, 2012.
Despite Saturday's outburst, the Reds have scored 3.3 runs per game - a run lower than their season average - in their last 11. Those struggles could continue against Gallardo (11-9, 4.18 ERA), who looks to win a season-best fourth consecutive decision.
Since returning in mid-August from a stint on the disabled list because of a hamstring injury, the right-hander has returned to the form that helped him win a combined 33 games from 2011-12. Gallardo is 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA over his last five starts, limiting opponents to a .198 average.
"I've been feeling good," Gallardo said. "That's the main thing and to be consistent. The year hasn't gone the way I wanted it to, but coming off the DL kind of refreshes the mental side and you can go out there and just pitch."
Gallardo pitched the Brewers (64-83) to a pair of victories over Cincinnati upon his return from injury, allowing two earned runs in 12 1-3 innings. He's 3-1 with a 1.84 ERA in his last five outings against the Reds.
Votto and Shin-Soo Choo went a combined 4 for 6 with two home runs and six RBIs Saturday, but they're 0 for 18 when facing Gallardo this season.
Cincinnati counters with right-hander Bronson Arroyo (13-11, 3.58), who has received just five runs of support over a three-start winless drought.
The Reds, however, have won all three of his starts against the Brewers this season as he's gone 2-0 with a 2.11 ERA. None of those games came in Milwaukee, where he's 5-3 with a 2.80 ERA in 11 career starts.
Rookie Scooter Gennett , 9 for 21 in his last six games, has gone 3 for 6 with a home run against Arroyo. Carlos Gomez is 3 for 19 lifetime in this matchup, but he's 5 for 7 with six RBIs in this series.
Milwaukee's Aramis Ramirez hasn't played since getting hit on the left wrist by a pitch Friday, though he might be able to return for this contest.
The Brewers have a chance to win their first home series since sweeping Miami from July 19-21.
|September 05, 2013||Brandon Phillips||Day-to-Day||Quadriceps|
|September 05, 2013||Devin Mesoraco||Day-to-Day||Hamstring|
|August 22, 2013||Jonathan Broxton||60-Day DL||Flexor mass strain, right forearm|
|August 21, 2013||Tony Cingrani||15-Day DL||Strained lower back|
|August 21, 2013||Tony Cingrani||15-Day DL||Strained lower back|
|August 21, 2013||Jonathan Broxton||Day-to-Day||Left game - elbow|
|September 13, 2013||Aramis Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Left wrist contusion|
|September 06, 2013||Khris Davis||Day-to-Day||Sore left wrist|
|August 15, 2013||Carlos Gomez||Day-to-Day||Sprained right knee|
|August 08, 2013||Rickie Weeks||60-Day DL||Left hamstring surgery - out for season|
|August 02, 2013||Tom Gorzelanny||Day-to-Day||Left elbow contusion|
|July 31, 2013||Yovani Gallardo||15-Day DL||Strained left hamstring|
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A subdued Bronson Arroyo captured the mood in a somber Cincinnati locker room Sunday after the Reds blew a late three-run lead and lost to the Milwaukee Brewers 6-5 on Sean Halton 's game-ending home run.
"That is probably as crushing of a defeat as we've had all year," Arroyo said.
The loss dealt a blow to Reds' pursuit of the NL Central title, although the team still has a hold on one of the wild-card spots.
Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker said his team is feeling the pain of the loss.
"We can still finish strong, but that is not going to take away the sting we feel today," Baker said. "You have to feel the sting today and get over it tomorrow because we have another series tomorrow. This does hurt. It really hurts."
Halton's home run with one out in the ninth came off reliever Zach Duke (1-2), the fifth Cincinnati pitcher. It was Halton's third homer of the season and first career walk-off.
"As a kid growing up, I wanted to be a baseball player and a major leaguer. That's the top of the mountain," Halton said.
Halton's big blow came after Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez made a game-saving catch on a deep drive by Jay Bruce with two runners on and two outs in the top of the ninth. Gomez extended over the center field fence to take away a home run from Bruce.
"Same thing happened to us last time we came in. Gomez robbed us of a potential game-winning home run," Baker said. "I thought Jay got that ball."
Gomez also threw out Brandon Phillips at third base earlier in the game.
"I'm expecting (Bruce) to hit the ball to center field or the gap because he's an aggressive hitter and I moved a few steps to the right side and I could follow the ball all the way through and get close to the fence," Gomez said.
Brewers' manager Ron Roenicke noted that Gomez has made several home run-saving catches this season.
"That was really well-timed. He knew he had plenty of time, plenty of distance away from the wall," Roenicke said. "He's good at it. He's made a lot of them."
Bruce said the Reds need to put the loss behind them.
"It is not always going to go our way, but there are 12 or 13 games left. We are fine," he said. "Obviously we would have liked to play better this series, but we can't change the past now. You have to go forward and take advantage of the opportunities in front of us."
Jean Segura sparked an eighth-inning rally with a two-run triple after Reds relievers walked the first two batters of the inning. Jonathan Lucroy followed with a sacrifice fly to tie it.
Jim Henderson (4-5) pitched a scoreless inning in relief to pick up the win.
The Brewers survived a shaky outing by starter Yovani Gallardo , who was tagged for five runs on seven hits over six innings. He walked three and struck out five.
Arroyo surrendered two runs on three hits over 6 1-3 innings. He walked four, struck out one and didn't give up a hit until Segura singled leading off the fourth.
"I felt good through the sixth, but I was having a little bit of control problems with my sinker, it was moving too much off the plate," Arroyo said.
Arroyo got into a bit of trouble in the seventh, walking the first two batters before retiring Caleb Gindl on a fly ball.
He departed after issuing his third walk of the inning. The Brewers then scored a run on a fielder's choice before Cincinnati reliever Sam LeCure retired Jeff Bianchi on a groundout to end the threat.
The Reds got on the board in the first inning when Gallardo labored through a 39-pitch inning.
Phillips had a run-scoring single, Ryan Ludwick drew a bases-loaded walk and Zach Cozart delivered a sacrifice fly to help the Reds jump out to a 3-0 lead.
Todd Frazier 's RBI single with two outs in the third extended Cincinnati's lead to 4-0.
Gindl's leadoff homer in the fifth gave Milwaukee its first run of the game, cutting the lead to 4-1.
Frazier's homer leading off the sixth pushed the Reds' advantage back to four.
NOTES: Reds RHP Johnny Cueto , who hasn't pitched since June 28 due to an injured back muscle, is scheduled to start Monday against Houston. ... Arroyo reached 30 starts for the ninth consecutive season, an active streak bettered only by Toronto's Mark Buehrle , who has done it 13 years in a row.