CINCINNATI (AP) – With another dominating performance, Johnny Cueto kept his hopes of a 20-win season in play.
Cueto allowed one run over eight innings, and Todd Frazier and Devin Mesoraco hit back-to-back homers on Tuesday night, sending the Cincinnati Reds to a 3-1 victory that pushed the Milwaukee Brewers to the verge elimination from wild card contention.
Cueto (19-9) gave up four hits, including Carlos Gomez’s homer. He’ll pitch Cincinnati’s final game on Sunday against Pittsburgh at Great American Ball Park with a chance for win No. 20.
“That would feel really good,” he said. “I’ve never had a 20-game season. I hope I feel like I felt today.”
The Reds haven’t had a 20-game winner since left-hander Danny Jackson in 1988. The last Reds right-hander to win 20 games was Sammy Ellis in 1965.
“He was phenomenal,” manager Bryan Price said. “He was really in command after the first inning.”
The Reds got the better of a matchup between teams with huge second-half fades. The Reds are 22-40 since the All-Star break.
Milwaukee led the NL Central for 150 days, but fell apart at the end. Up by 6 1/2 games on June 28, the Brewers have gone 29-45 and fallen far behind Pittsburgh and San Francisco in the wild card race. Their loss on Tuesday was their 19th in 26 games.
“It’s always tough,” said Mike Fiers (6-4). “We kind of gave it away. We had a lot of opportunities. It was in our hands.”
Frazier and Mesoraco connected in the first inning off Fiers. It was Frazier’s 28th homer, the most by a third baseman in the National League. Mesoraco’s homer was his 25th. He leads the majors in homers by a catcher.
That’s all that Cueto needed.
“A two-run lead with him feels like five or six with other guys,” Mesoraco said.
Milwaukee’s offense has unraveled in the closing weeks of the season, scoring two or fewer runs in each of the last six games. Gomez hit a solo homer in the sixth, ending a streak of 14 consecutive batters retired by Cueto. The right-hander walked one and struck out seven.
Aroldis Chapman pitched the ninth for his 34th save in 36 chances, fanning Ryan Braun with two runners aboard to end it.
The Brewers had chances in the first inning, when they had two singles and a walk but failed to score. Gomez singled and was picked off first base. Scooter Gennett walked but was thrown out at the plate while trying to score from second base on Aramis Ramirez’s single.
BAD AT GABP
The Brewers have lost 13 of their last 18 games at Great American Ball Park and 31 of their last 43. Overall this season, the Reds are 9-8 against Milwaukee, including 6-2 at GABP.
Fiers’ five innings matches his season low as a starter. … Gomez was caught stealing for the 12th time. … It’s the second time Cueto has won 19 games in a season. He went 19-9 in 2012. … CF Billy Hamilton threw Gennett out at the plate in the first inning. It was his 10th assist, the most by any center fielder in the NL and any rookie outfielder in the majors.
Reds: 1B Joey Votto continues to take batting practice and infield practice, but it’s still unclear whether he’ll play this week. Votto has missed 94 games because of strained muscles above his left knee. He’s been out since July 6 on his second DL stint.