MILWAUKEE (AP) - Rickie Weeks hit a three-run homer and the Milwaukee Brewers' bullpen held on to beat the Cincinnati Reds 5-4 on Thursday night to open an important four-game series for both clubs before the All-Star break.
Weeks hit a line-drive shot off Homer Bailey (3-4) as the Brewers built a 5-2 lead in the fifth.
However, LaTroy Hawkins gave up a run in the eighth and John Axford got into serious trouble in the ninth, allowing a leadoff home run to Ramon Hernandez and putting runners on the corners with two outs before getting Brandon Phillips to ground out.
Cincinnati's highly-touted prospect Zack Cozart singled, scored his first run and made a defensive play to save another, but the Reds lost for the fifth time in seven games.
The Reds had their opportunities to rally late.
Hawkins gave up an RBI groundout to Jay Bruce to make it 5-3, but got out of further trouble after putting runners on the corners with no outs. Axford gave up a one-out walk to Drew Stubbs, but he was caught stealing on a pitch out for the second out.
Miguel Cairo followed with a broken-bat single just out of the reach of Weeks at second and Joey Votto singled through the shifted infield. Axford then managed to pick up his 23rd save on Phillips' comebacker.
Chris Narveson (6-5) pitched six innings to improve to 4-1 over his last six starts, rebounding from a poor performance in Minnesota on Saturday.
Milwaukee didn't have Ryan Braun for a fifth straight game because of a strained left calf, but the Brewers found a way to put together a big inning after struggling to score runs during their recent slide.
The Brewers took a 1-0 lead in the second on Yuniesky Betancourt's sacrifice fly, but the Reds answered with runs in the third and fourth before Bailey lost command in the fifth when he allowed Jonathan Lucroy's single and walked Narveson on four pitches after Narveson wanted to lay down a sacrifice bunt.
After Weeks' shot, Corey Hart singled, stole second and scored on Mark Kotsay's single to give Milwaukee a 5-2 lead.
Cozart took over for Paul Janish at shortstop and made an impact in his first major-league game. The 25-year-old saved a run in the third with runners on the corners when he stabbed a grounder going to his right, throwing across the diamond to get Hart at first to end the inning.
In the fourth, Cozart singled with two outs and scored with a headfirst slide off Hernandez's single when Weeks' relay throw from second was wide right of the plate, but the rookie also killed a potential big inning in the sixth when he grounded into a double play.
NOTES: The Reds called up RHP Carlos Fisher along with Cozart and sent down Janish along with RHP Edinson Volquez. ... Utah Jazz PG Devin Harris, a Milwaukee native, threw out the first pitch. ... Tests showed no damage to Braun's left calf, but there's still lingering soreness. ... The Brewers will start RHP Yovani Gallardo (10-5, 3.76 ERA) in the first game of the second half next Thursday at Colorado. ... Milwaukee had Phillips caught in a rundown twice in the second, but Weeks' errant throw hit Phillips to allow him back to first and on the next pickoff, first baseman Prince Fielder's throw went wild into left field.
The Associated Press News Service
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