MILWAUKEE — Matt Clark, a September promotion who has spent six seasons in the minors and another in Japan, is playing quite well for Milwaukee in the heat of a playoff race.
Clark hit a three-run homer in Milwaukee's five-run seventh inning, and the Brewers beat the Cincinnati Reds 9-2 on Sunday.
Mark Reynolds added a solo shot in the eighth as the Brewers won for the fourth time in five games. Matt Garza (8-8) allowed one run and four hits in six-plus innings.
Milwaukee remained 1 1/2 games back of Pittsburgh for the second wild card in the NL.
The 27-year-old Clark has homered in each of his last three games.
"They come in bunches," he said. "You try to ride the wave. You just keep trying to put good swings on the ball and see what happens."
Clark got another start at first base as the Brewers looked to jump-start what had been a struggling offense.
"I like what he's doing on defense, also," Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said. "It looks like he handles himself really well there. We'll keep putting him out there and see what happens."
The Brewers had been primarily using a platoon of Reynolds and Lyle Overbay at first, with an occasional start at the position for catcher Jonathan Lucroy.
"Now that I'm here, you just want to get in there and contribute," Clark said.
Garza struck out six and walked three. He is 2-0 with a sparkling 0.82 ERA in three starts against Cincinnati this year.
"(Garza) was sharp," Roenicke said. "It sure was nice to see him come out of the chute and throw the ball well."
Garza struggled in two previous starts after missing nearly a month with an oblique strain.
"I've felt fine since I've come back. It's just that the ball was down better today and we made some great plays," he said.
Todd Frazier hit his 26th homer in the sixth for Cincinnati, which has lost five of its last six games against Milwaukee. Mike Leake (11-12) gave up three runs and eight hits in six innings.
Milwaukee also got a solid performance from Lucroy, who reached four times via three hits and a walk. The All-Star had a two-run single in the fourth to give the Brewers a 3-0 lead.
It was 3-1 when Milwaukee put the game away in the seventh. Clark connected against Logan Ondrusek, Scooter Gennett had an RBI single and Ryan Braun's bases-loaded walk against Carlos Contreras made it 8-1.
The Reds added a run in the ninth on Ryan Ludwick's single.
Brewers: 3B Aramis Ramirez, who has nagging hamstring tightness, had the day off. "It's holding up, but not good," Roenicke said.
Reds: 1B Joey Votto, on the disabled list since July with a quad strain, took underhand flips at batting practice. "It's day to day. It's just a progression," manager Bryan Price said. No timetable has been set for Votto's return.
Brewers: Wily Peralta (16-10, 3.75 ERA) will take on the Cardinals in the opener of a three-game series in St. Louis on Tuesday. In four previous starts against the Cards this season, Peralta has gone 3-1 with a 2.08 ERA. The start will be Peralta's 30th of the season.
Reds: Alfredo Simon (14-10, 3.48 ERA) will face the Cubs in Chicago on Monday. Simon, who began the season as the fifth starter, has established career highs in starts, wins, losses, strikeouts, quality starts and innings pitched. However, he's struggled since the All-Star break, going 2-7 with a 4.96 ERA.
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