Carlos Gomez took away a Jay Bruce home run in the top of the ninth and then Sean Halton sent one over the center field wall to give the Brewers a 6-5 victory in Milwaukee on Sunday.
The Reds (84-66) are now 3.5 games behind the first place Pirates (87-62) and Cardinals (87-62) who both won on Sunday. The three teams have not been able to create any real separation as the Reds and Pirates have gone 6-4 in their last ten while the Cardinals are 7-3 in that span. The Nationals (79-70) have now won eight of their last ten to pull within 4.5 games of the Reds for the final Wild Card spot.
Cincinnati staked itself to a 3-0 lead in the first inning against Yovani Gallardo. The first six Reds hitters touched first with Joey Votto singling in Shin-Soo Choo and then Ryan Ludwick forced in Brandon Phillips when he walked with the bases loaded. Zack Cozart drove in Bruce for the final run of the inning.
Todd Frazier singled in Bruce in the third inning to give Bronson Arroyo a 4-0 lead. Caleb Gindl finally got to Arroyo in the fifth inning with a leadoff homer, but Frazier got that run right back in the sixth inning with a leadoff home run of his own to make it 5-1.
Arroyo was chased in the seventh inning when he walked the bases loaded. Sam LeCure came on relief and got a ground ball off the bat of Halton, but the Reds were only able to get the runner at second to make it a 5-2 game. LeCure induced another ground ball to escape any further damage.
LeCure stayed on in the eighth and only faced Norichika Aoki who walked to open the inning. Former Brewer Manny Parra relieved LeCure and hit the only batter he faced, Khris Davis. J.J. Hoover came in next to face Jean Segura who promptly cleared the bases with a two run triple. Jonathan Lucroy scored Segura to tie the game on a sacrifice fly.
Milwaukee elected to go to its closer Jim Henderson (4-5) and he struck out two of the first three hitters he faced. Choo walked and then stole second to set up an intentional walk to Votto. Bruce followed with a towering blast that was headed over the wall, but just as he robbed Votto of a go ahead homer earlier in the year, Gomez jumped high enough to take away the hit.
Zach Duke (1-2) came on a got the first hitter he faced to ground out, but Halton followed with a walk-off homer to win it.
The Reds announced that Johnny Cueto (4-2) will return to the rotation for the first time since June 28 against Texas. He'll try to get back to form nearly four hours south of his last start as the Reds head to Houston to face the worst team in baseball. The Astros (51-98) will counter with Erik Bedard (4-10) as they play the Reds for the first time since leaving the NL Central and joining the AL West.
Cincinnati will need to take advantage of its opponent because the Pirates and Cardinals will also be facing team with losing records.The Nationals will be taking on the NL's top team in Atlanta.