- Associated Press - Saturday, September 19, 2015

MILWAUKEE (AP) - The Milwaukee Brewers had lost six consecutive games to the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals, the top two teams in the major leagues.

The Cincinnati Reds are a different story, 22 games under .500, but the Milwaukee Brewers continued to struggle against one of baseball’s worst teams and fell back into last place in the NL Central on Friday night.

Touted rookie Brandon Finnegan allowed just one run in five innings to win his first major league start, and Jay Bruce’s solo home run snapped a tie as the Reds beat the Brewers 5-3.

The Brewers went 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position, the key statistics in extending their losing streak to seven games.

“We got runners on, we just didn’t get that next hit,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. “That was the story of the game.”

Finnegan (1-0), the prize prospect in the trade that sent Johnny Cueto to the Kansas City Royals, allowed three hits and two walks while striking out four on 75 pitches. The left-hander allowed a solo homer to Khris Davis in the second, but held the Brewers hitless in eight at-bats with runners in scoring position.

“You wouldn’t have thought it was his first start,” Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart said. “He threw the ball great. He was very impressive.”

Six relievers pitched the final four innings for the Reds, with Aroldis Chapman pitching the ninth for his 31st save in 34 chances.

Milwaukee starter Zach Davies (1-2) allowed three runs on five hits and four walks while striking out four in his fourth major league start.

“There were some moments in the game I felt like I had it and some moments that I just fell apart,” Davies said. “ust kind of got the best of me.”

Joey Votto missed the game for the Reds, serving his suspension after his appeal got it reduced from two games to one earlier in the day. Votto was suspended for confronting umpire Bill Welke in a Sept. 9 game.

With the score tied at 1 in the fourth, Bruce hit the first pitch from Davies into the Brewers bullpen in left-center field for his 22nd homer to give Cincinnati the lead for good. Eugenio Suarez and Adam Duvall followed with consecutive doubles to make it 3-1.

The Brewers pulled to 3-2 in the sixth on an RBI fielder’s choice by Jason Rogers, but Milwaukee went 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position to lose its seventh consecutive game and drop into last place in the NL Central, one-half game behind the Reds.

Cincinnati’s Jason Bourgeois hit a solo homer in the seventh.

Rogers hit his third homer of the year in the eighth to close the scoring.

Finnegan, 22, was the 17th pick of the 2014 draft for Kansas City and pitched in just 13 minor league games before joining the Royals in September of that year. He won Game 2 of the AL Division Series and lost Game 4 of the World Series.

Finnegan made 23 regular season relief appearances for the Royals and Reds over two seasons, going 3-1 with a 2.38 ERA in 34 innings, including 3-0 for the Royals this year. He struggled in the minor leagues this season, going 0-6 with a 5.85 ERA in 15 starts.

The Royals obtained Cueto on July 26 for three left-handed pitchers: Finnegan, John Lamb and Cody Reed.


Seven of the 18 starters in the game were rookies and all six pitchers who are scheduled to start in the three-game series are rookies. If that occurs, it will be the first time since Oct. 3-4, 1913 (doubleheader on Oct. 3) when the Washington Senators (Jim Shaw, Joe Boehling, Mutt Williams) faced the Boston Red Sox (Dutch Leonard, Earl Moseley, Fred Anderson) at Griffith Stadium, according to Elias Sports Bureau.


Reds: CF Billy Hamilton, who leads the majors in steals with 57, returned to Cincinnati on Friday to have an MRI on his injured right shoulder. Hamilton originally suffered the injury in August and was placed on the DL, but returned Sept. 8. He was removed from Monday night’s game with soreness in the shoulder, didn’t play Tuesday and pinch-ran on Wednesday.

Brewers: RHP Jimmy Nelson remained hospitalized for a second night Friday after being hit in the head by a line drive Thursday. Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said it was a precautionary measure.


Reds: Votto returns for the second game in the series, and RHP Josh Smith will make his first ML start since July 4, when he dropped a 7-3 decision to the Brewers.

Brewers: RHP Taylor Jungmann will try to continue his mastery of the Reds this season. The rookie is 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA in two starts against Cincinnati, allowing just one earned run in 14 innings.

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