CINCINNATI – Jay Bruce singled off Trevor Hoffman with two outs in the 10th inning Monday night, rallying the Cincinnati Reds to a 5-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers that extended their NL Central lead to a season-high six games.
The Reds are pulling away from second-place St. Louis, which lost at Houston 3-0 on Monday night. The six-game lead is Cincinnati biggest since 1995, the last time it reached the playoffs.
Hoffman (2-7) walked Ryan Hanigan to open the 10th. Pinch-runner Brandon Phillips stopped at second on Chris Heisey's two-out single. Bruce, who led off the Reds' first with a homer, then singled through the hole at shortstop to end it.
Francisco Cordero (5-4) gave up a single in the 10th.
Since getting swept by the Cardinals in early August, the Reds have taken control by winning 12 of 16 while the Cardinals faded. At 76-55, the Reds are 21 games above .500 for the first time since 1999, when they lost a one-game playoff to the Mets for the NL wild card.
Bruce also opened the Reds' first with his eighth homer in his last 16 games. Joey Votto doubled home a run, extending his hitting streak to nine games. Juan Francisco tied it at 4 in the sixth inning with a pinch-hit, solo homer off Mike McClendon.
The Reds wasted plenty of chances to pull away early.
Brewers left-hander Randy Wolf struggled with his control, walking five batters and hitting another in his five innings. The Reds hit into four double plays to scuttle threats, including one with the bases loaded in the fifth.
Cincinnati also had some bad moments on the bases, getting runners thrown out at third and at the plate after a rundown.
The Brewers stole a season-high four bases — three in one inning — off right-hander Homer Bailey, who lasted six innings. Casey McGehee had a run-scoring double for his 28th RBI in August, the most in the majors.
Wolf made Brewers history in the third inning, becoming the franchise's first pitcher to steal a base. It was one of three steals during the two-run inning — Rickie Weeks and Ryan Braun also stole, though Braun was then picked off second.
Brewers center fielder Lorenzo Cain made a sensational play to steal a hit in the sixth, slamming full-speed into the wall in left-center field to catch Ryan Hanigan's fly. Cain stayed on his back for a few minutes to catch his breath, but remained in the game.
The Reds decided before the game to add a little sizzle to their bullpen for the rest of the series. They'll call up left-hander Aroldis Chapman before Tuesday's game, introducing his 105 mph fastball to the majors. The 22-year-old Cuban defector signed a six-year, $30.25 million deal in January.
NOTES: Only 14,589 fans bought tickets, the Reds' smallest crowd since June 8. ... Wolf's steal was the second of his career. He also swiped a base last season with Los Angeles. ... Francisco's homer was the second of his career. ... RHP Aaron Harang will be activated off the DL and start Tuesday's game. Harang has been sidelined since July 6 by back spasms. ... 2B Brandon Phillips was out of the lineup for the fourth straight game with a bruised right hand, hit by a pitch. He declined to talk about his hand it before the game.