Reds hang on in 9th to win 4-3 at Milwaukee and reduce Brewers’ NL Central lead to a half-game

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Andrew Abbott pitched six scoreless innings, Will Benson hit a two-run homer and the Cincinnati Reds withstood a frantic ninth-inning comeback attempt to edge the Milwaukee Brewers 4-3 on Tuesday night.

Cincinnati reduced the Brewers’ NL Central lead over the Reds to a half-game. The Brewers and Reds will have their final regular-season meeting Wednesday afternoon in the rubber match of this three-game series.

The Brewers trailed 4-0 before nearly coming all the way back in the ninth.

One night after hitting a walk-off single to give the Brewers a 3-2 victory over the Reds, Christian Yelich ripped a three-run homer off reliever Daniel Duarte with two outs in the ninth inning. William Contreras then greeted Alexis Díaz with an infield single, though he initially was called out before replays showed he had beaten the throw from third baseman Elly De La Cruz.

After Tyrone Taylor pinch-ran for Contreras and stole second, a 3-2 pitch from Díaz hit Willy Adames. Díaz finally sealed Cincinnati’s victory and earned his 30th save in 31 opportunities by retiring Andruw Monasterio on a fly to center.

Cincinnati’s biggest obstacle in its quest for the NL Central lead thus far has been its struggles against the Brewers. Since May 25, the Reds have gone 3-9 against the Brewers and 32-9 against everyone else.

The Reds finally got the better of the Brewers on Tuesday thanks largely to Abbott, a rookie right-hander who already has grown accustomed to pitching against them.

Abbott (6-2) has faced the Brewers in four of his 10 career starts. He allowed six runs over 4 1/3 innings in a 7-3 loss at Milwaukee on July 7, but he has given up just two runs over 18 innings the other three times.

He struck out nine and scattered seven hits and one walk Tuesday to improve his ERA to 1.90 and outduel Corbin Burnes (9-6).

Burnes entered Tuesday’s game having thrown 15 straight scoreless innings. He extended that streak to 18 before running into trouble in the fourth.

Burnes hit TJ Friedl with a pitch and walked Matt McLain to start the inning. After Jake Fraley struck out, Jonathan India hit a bouncer up the line that went off third baseman Monasterio’s glove for an RBI single. Joey Votto then snapped an 0-for-19 slump with a single up the middle that brought home McLain.

Benson made it 4-0 in the top of the ninth with his 418-foot shot to left-center off Bryse Wilson.

The Brewers squandered a couple of early scoring opportunities against Abbott.

Milwaukee had runners on first and third with one out in the second but failed to score. Monasterio got thrown out attempting to score from first on Victor Caratini’s two-out double to right in the fourth.