MILWAUKEE — Although still searching for his first major league win, Cincinnati Reds young hurler John Lamb showed considerable improvement in his start Sunday afternoon against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Lamb (0-3), acquired in the deal that sent Johnny Cueto to Kansas City last month, was making just his fourth major league start, and this was his most effective. He gave up two runs and five hits in six innings. He struck out eight and didn't walk a batter.
"I'm not going to be too excited about that start, but it's certainly telling me that as I believe in myself, I can come out here and compete," Lamb said.
Ryan Braun homered and Wily Peralta pitched seven strong innings to propel the Brewers past the Reds 4-1.
But Lamb was a bright spot it what continues to be a lost season for the Reds.
"John made quality pitch after quality pitch. I think it's a sign of things to come. John's going to be a very reliable starting pitcher for us," Cincinnati manager Bryan Price said.
Milwaukee's Jonathan Lucroy said he struggled to get comfortable at the plate against Lamb.
"(Lamb) had a really good changeup. Anywhere from 83 mph to 71 mph. It was really slow," Lucroy said. "Anytime a guy has a good changeup like that it makes all his other stuff better."
Lamb's outing also caught the attention of Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell.
"He's got a very good change-up. He didn't make mistakes with his slider or cutter. He got it in on our right-handed hitters. A very nice job," Counsell said.
Peralta (5-8) held the Reds to one run and seven hits in a battle of teams fighting to stay out of the National League Central Division cellar. Peralta struck out six and didn't issue a walk.
Braun's two-out solo home run in the first off Lamb gave the Brewers the early lead.
The Reds tied the score in the second when a soft chopper by Brayan Pena got past Milwaukee's drawn in infield, allowing Todd Frazier, who led off with a double, to score.
Milwaukee grabbed the lead again in the third. Martin Maldonado led off with a double, advanced on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Jonathan Lucroy's single. The Brewers extended their lead in the eighth. Jean Segura drove in a run with a triple and then scored on Lucroy's sacrifice fly.
Francisco Rodriguez recorded his 31st save in 32 chances, one day after blowing his first save of the season.
Reds: OF Brennan Boesch was placed on the 15-day disabled list, but manager Bryan Price said an announcement on his replacement won't be named until Monday. Boesch was scratched from the lineup Sunday with a sore right ankle. .Price has seen his pitching rotation devastated by injuries this year. The current staff includes three rookies and two second-year pitchers. "It's exciting and it's frustrating. We're having to go through a lot of the growing pains," Price said. "Some guys might be up here a little prematurely and that's out of necessity. The benefits and rewards will play out in '16 and '17, but maybe not as much as we had hoped in '15."
Brewers: Manager Craig Counsell said struggling Matt Garza (6-14, 5.56 ERA), who spent time on the disabled list in July with shoulder tendinitis, will remain in the starting rotation for now. "It's difficult to find the reasons why (he's struggling)," Counsell said. "Sometimes maybe we make it too complicated and it's just Matt needs to execute pitches better."
Reds: Michael Lorenzen (3-8, 5.46 ERA) was recalled from Triple-A Louisville following Sunday's game and will start against the Cubs on Monday in Chicago in the opener of a three-game series. David Holmberg, who was scheduled to pitch Monday, was optioned to Louisville.
Brewers: Jimmy Nelson (10-10, 3.81) will be on the mound Tuesday as Milwaukee opens at three-game series at home against Pittsburgh. Nelson is 3-1 with a 1.85 ERA in four career starts against the Pirates, all coming this year.