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Yelich hits 31st homer; Reds beat Brewers 5-4 in 11 innings

CINCINNATI, OHIO - JULY 02: Yasiel Puig #66 of the Cincinnati Reds slides safely into second base ahead of the tag by Keston Hiura #18 of the Milwaukee Brewers in the 9th inning at Great American Ball Park on July 02, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Reds won 5-4 in 11 innings. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

CINCINNATI — Christian Yelich’s throw short-hopped first baseman Eric Thames, deflected off the end of his glove and skittered across the infield. Yasiel Puig saw an opening to end the game.

Puig homered to start Cincinnati’s comeback, and he scored the winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning Tuesday night, rallying the Reds to a 5-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.

Yelich hit his major league-leading 31st homer as the Brewers got ahead 4-2 and then had a hand in the play that let it get away at the end.

Puig hit a solo homer in the seventh, and Joey Votto doubled home the tying run in the eighth — only the second time this season that the Brewers failed after leading so late in a game.

Puig singled with two outs in the 11th off Corbin Burnes (1-4) and easily made it to third on Jose Iglesias’ single to right. When Yelich’s return throw deflected away, Puig decided to take a chance that paid off, sliding in headfirst before the Brewers could make a play.

“I like to play the way I play,” Puig said. “Sometimes it’s stupid, sometimes it works.”

Manager David Bell liked Puig’s aggressiveness with the game on the line.

“Man, he willed that win with his base-running,” Bell said. “To win a game with base-running, that’s pretty cool. That’s fun. That doesn’t always happen.”

The Reds’ comeback ended Milwaukee’s streak of six straight wins at Great American Ball Park. The Brewers have won 11 of their last 16 against Cincinnati overall, but let this one get away because they couldn’t handle a throw to the infield.

“The throw back in hit the ground and came up on me,” Thames said. “That’s an unfortunate way to lose.”

Once the ball deflected off Thames’ glove, catcher Yasmani Grandal had to chase it toward third base, giving Puig his opening.

“It got away from Eric too far,” manager Craig Counsell said. “If you just knock it down, nothing happens. You can’t let it get away from you that much. In the end, we didn’t make a defensive play.”

Milwaukee pulled ahead 4-2 as Yelich hit the first of the Brewers’ three homers off Tanner Roark. Thames and Mike Moustakas also connected .

Yelich got the Brewers going with a solo shot in the fourth, his second in two games. The National League’s reigning MVP is the first Brewer to hit 31 before the All-Star break. He’s the first National Leaguer with so many homers before the break since Albert Pujols had 32 in 2009. The Orioles’ Chris Davis hit 37 in 2013.

Eugenio Suarez had a two-run homer in the first inning off Chase Anderson, his fourth homer in three games. He also had a pair of two-run shots during the Brewers’ 8-6 win on Monday. He has hit 20 homers before the All-Star break for the first time in his career.

BEHIND-THE-PLATE DEBUT

Kyle Farmer made his first career start at catcher. He caught parts of four games with the Dodgers in 2017-18. The Reds decided to use Farmer as the backup to Curt Casali while Tucker Barnhart recovers from a strained oblique. Orlando Arcia stole third base in the seventh, without Farmer making a throw.

“It may not be perfect, but we have a lot of confidence he’s going to be able to handle himself,” Bell said pregame.

BEST FOR FIRST

Suarez’s homer added to the Reds’ excellence in the first inning. They lead the majors in first-inning batting average (.303) and runs (70).

STREAKY SLUGGER

It’s the second time this season that Suarez has homered in three straight games. Last season, he tied the club record with homers in five consecutive games.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Brewers: Left-hander Brent Suter has been cleared to throw to hitters, the next step in his recovery from Tommy John surgery midway through last season.

Reds: Left-hander Alex Wood is scheduled to throw in the bullpen Wednesday. He’s been sidelined by a back injury since spring training and has had several setbacks, most recently last week when he tried to throw.

UP NEXT

Brewers: Jhoulys Chacin (3-8) is 0-5 with a 6.27 ERA over his last seven starts. In two starts against the Reds this season, he has allowed seven runs in 10 innings.

Reds: Sonny Gray (4-5) makes his third start against the Brewers this season. He’s 1-0 allowing four runs in 10 1/3 innings.

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