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The strength of a contending club often isn’t determined by who plays every day Taron Johnson Color Rush Jersey , but who plays only every few days. Or every few weeks. Or even every few months.
The Milwaukee Brewers were concerned when they began their Friday night game in Cincinnati with two injured starting outfielders, Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich, then lost the other starter, Ryan Braun, to lower back tightness in the seventh inning.
But manager Craig Counsell plugged in exactly the right pieces, and a spare outfield group that probably should be called “The Replacements” keyed an 8-2 victory over the Reds.
How’s this for a couple of fills-in, who did nothing except fill up the box score: Keon Broxton was 3-for-4 with two homers, four RBIs, a run stolen by some alert baserunning and an exceptional sliding catch.
And Hernan Perez, who came in after Braun was hurt, contributed a two-run double to start a five-run ninth inning.
“They (the Brewers outfield) have been the workhorse of this team, so I’ve got to come in and fill their spot while they’re down. It was a good night,” said Broxton, who played in only his third game this season.
Because their bench came through yet again — on Thursday night, part-time starter Eric Thames hit his third consecutive game-winning homer against the Reds — the Brewers can assure them of winning the four-game series by taking Saturday’s game at Great American Ball Park.
“It speaks to our depth again … we’ve had a couple of games like that where (bench players) make meaningful contributions Jeremy Kerley Color Rush Jersey ,” Counsell said. “With Yelich down, we’re counting on Keon, so it’s got to be a good feeling for him.”
The last-place Reds had won nine of 10 coming in to the series, but still can’t seem to solve the Brewers, who have won seven of eight games against Cincinnati. Milwaukee owns the National League’s best record at 48-33.
“These guys have been battling all year and they’re in a good spot right now, so I’m trying to do my best to keep them right there,” Broxton said.
Milwaukee will send out right-hander Jhoulys Chacin (6-3), who has lost his last two decisions, on Saturday to face Reds right-hander Tyler Mahle (6-6), who has won his last three decisions during a span of six starts.
“We’ve got to play better. … Their pitching kind of stifled us the last two nights,” Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “We’ve got to turn it back on … crank it up again with our bats.”
Yelich sat out with a lower back issue. He’s listed as day to day — and so Broxton made his second start since being recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Tuesday.
Broxton had an RBI single in the second against Sal Romano (4-Cool, then hit the first of his two homers to make the score 2-0 in the fourth. Then, with Milwaukee up 2-1 in the eighth after reliever Michael Lorenzen’s homer for the Reds, Broxton appeared to be caught off third by Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart.
But he eluded a tag by falling down, then scored as Orlando Arcia distracted the Reds by allowing himself to be tagged off second.
Broxton finished quite an evening’s work with a two-run homer in the ninth and a stretched-out catch of Scooter Gennett’s drive into the right-center field gap with two runners on base.
“He’s been up and down (from the minors) a little bit Trent Murphy Color Rush Jersey , but he’s very talented,” Riggleman said of Broxton, who hit only .220 while spending most of last season with Milwaukee. “He can do a lot of things — he can hit with power, he can run and he plays great defense.”
The Reds didn’t do much against Brewers starter Chase Anderson, who limited them to one other hit besides Lorenzen’s homer in six innings, and relievers Josh Hader, Jeremy Jeffress and Dan Jennings.
Now, the Brewers would like to get Chacin straightened out. His ERA jumped from 3.18 to 3.82 as he gave up eight runs, nine hits and five walks in 4 1/3 innings during an 8-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday. Chacin is 2-3 in nine career games against the Reds. He didn’t get the decision during a 6-5 Brewers win on April 30.
In Mahle’s only previous start against the Brewers, Thames beat him with a two-run homer in a 2-0 Milwaukee win on April 18.
Wilmer Font helped cool down the surging Houston Astros before leaving with an injury. Font and four relievers combined on a three-hitter and the Tampa Bay Rays beat Houston 3-2 on Friday night to snap the Astros’ 11-game road winning streak, which tied a franchise record.
Font (2-3) allowed one run and one hit over five-plus innings before leaving the game with a strained right lat.
”We’ll know more (Saturday), but in all likelihood he’ll probably miss some significant time,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. ”He’s been throwing the ball so well for us and obviously did again tonight.”
Font, acquired from Oakland on May 25, was recently inserted into the rotation.
”I worked hard for this starting spot Isaiah Oliver Color Rush Jersey , and now this happens,” Font said.
Diego Castillo, Chaz Roe, Sergio Romo and Jose Alvarado held the Astros in check after Font’s exit. Alvarado got the final out for his second save.
The Rays improved their record to 8-6 during a stretch of 16 games against Houston, Washington and the New York Yankees.
Alex Bregman homered for the Astros, who lost for just fourth time in 22 games overall. Gerrit Cole (9-2) gave up three runs – one earned – and five hits in six innings to end his seven-game winning streak.
”It’s a tough-luck loss for him because he pitched better than to get a loss,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said.
Tampa Bay capitalized on a pair of Houston errors to get three runs in the fourth, snapping a 19-inning scoring drought.
Adeiny Hechavarria was credited with a sacrifice fly that center fielder Jake Marisnick dropped for an error. Two more runs scored with two outs when shortstop Marwin Gonzalez made an errant throw to first on Kevin Kiermaier’s grounder.
”We didn’t make the plays,” Hinch said. ”Jake looked like he got back to the wall and either he had a little bit of weird timing and then he’s going to hit the wall and the ball came out. Never controlled it. And Marwin just hurried trying to get Kiermaier and made a low throw and got a little unlucky that (first baseman AJ) Reed deflects it a little far away. Kind of a weird way to score three runs.”
Bregman made it 3-2 in the sixth with his homer off Castillo, who replaced Font during the at-bat. Bregman has seven homers and 18 RBIs in his last 14 games.
TRAINER’S ROOM
Astros: SS Carlos Correa was officially placed on the 10-day disabled list with back stiffness but could be back in a week. Hinch said Correa saw the team spine specialist and ”everything checked out fine.” … RHP Joe Smith (right elbow soreness) allowed three hits in a scoreless inning for Double-A Corpus Christi.
Rays: RHP Chris Archer (left abdominal strain) will start Tuesday for Single-A Charlotte. It hasn’t been determined if he will need a second rehab outing.
STRUGGLING SPRINGER
Astros OF George Springer, mired in a 3-of-40 slide, was out of the lineup. ”He’s pretty agitated about how things going for him,” Hinch said. ”Kind of a reset. He’ll be fine.” Springer was a pinch-runner in the ninth.
DAREDEVIL
Hinch did a TV interview from an overhanging catwalk at Tropicana Field. Next season he plans to go on the roof of the domed stadium.
UP NEXT
Astros RHP Justin Verlander (9-3) starts Saturday. Verlander allowed a season-high four earned runs over 6 2/3 innings in a 6-3 loss to Toronto on Monday. Tampa Bay will counter with a bullpen day.


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