CINCINNATI — A resurgent night for the Brewers' struggling offense ended with the bullpen stealing the show again.
Ryan Braun's two-run double put Milwaukee ahead to stay, and Jeremy Jeffress escaped a two-on, one-out threat in the eighth by fanning Joey Votto, preserving a 7-6 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night.
One day after Josh Hader set a major league record by fanning eight Reds in less than three innings to close out a 6-5 win, Jeffress came into an even more difficult situation and pulled another one out .
"The situation he came into was as tough a situation as there is — the tying run at third and Joey Votto coming up," manager Craig Counsell said. "Josh had a great night last night. That was a tougher situation to come into."
With runners on first and third, Jeffress got Votto on a called third strike with a fastball on the inside corner. He then retired Scott Schebler on a grounder to end the threat, and finished the game for his first save since 2016.
"The guy's been amazing," said Chase Anderson (3-2), who overcame a rough first inning. "It's hard to strike out Votto in that situation. He's been the unsung hero of the season so far."
Milwaukee came into a series in an historically bad slump — only two runs and 14 hits total while getting swept during a four-game series at Wrigley Field. The Brewers have broken out against a Reds team off to its worst start since the Great Depression.
Braun's two-run double off Homer Bailey (0-4) put the Brewers ahead to stay 5-3 in the fifth inning, Milwaukee's second straight game with at least six runs. The Reds have lost all of Bailey's seven starts this season.
Travis Shaw snapped an 0-for-19 slump with a two-run homer. Jesus Aguilar and Hernan Perez added solo shots, giving Milwaukee five homers in the series.
Eugenio Suarez led the Reds with a two-run homer and a sacrifice fly. In six games back from a broken thumb, Suarez is batting .360 with three doubles, 10 RBIs and a homer.
The Reds fell to 7-23, matching the 1931 and 1934 teams for worst 30-game start in franchise history.
"We just can't quite get over the hump," said interim manager Jim Riggleman, who is 4-8. "That's why we're where we are in the standings, but I know we're going to get out of it. We're getting close. We're going to close the gap on these teams."
Milwaukee made a move to add a position player temporarily, calling up OF Brett Phillips from Triple-A Colorado Springs and optioning RH reliever Brandon Woodruff.
Perez's homer barely cleared the wall in left and deflected back into the outfield. He slid into second base as the Reds tried to make a play, but the umpires ruled it a home run and Perez got up and continued home. The call was confirmed on review.
Manny Pina threw out Billy Hamilton as he tried to steal second base in the sixth inning, the first time the Reds' speedy center fielder has been caught in six attempts this season.
Reds second baseman Rosell Herrera made an off-line throw to first base on Christian Yelich's grounder in the third inning, but Votto dived, caught the ball and tapped his right toe on the base to get the out.
UPON EVEN FURTHER REVIEW ...
The Brewers fell to 0-5 in replay challenges this season. Counsell asked for a review when Adam Duvall was called safe as he got back to first base on a pickoff try. The call was upheld.
Brewers: RH Corey Knebel will start a rehab assignment Thursday and make three or four appearances. He's been sidelined by a strained left hamstring since April 6.
Reds: An MRI on Scooter Gennett's sore throwing shoulder found no significant injury. He was out of the lineup for a second straight day, but pinch hit and grounded out.
Brewers: LH Wade Miley will be activated and make his Milwaukee debut. He signed a minor league deal on Feb. 16 and suffered a strained groin while fielding a bunt on March 21. When added to the 40-man roster, he'll get a one-year deal with a salary of $2.5 million while in the majors and the chance to earn up to $3.2 million in performance bonuses. RH Oliver Drake was designated for assignment.
Reds: Luis Castillo (1-3) is coming off his worst career start. He gave up five runs while pitching into just the second inning last Friday at Minnesota.