CINCINNATI – Left-hander Aroldis Chapman hit 103 mph on the radar gun during another sizzling inning Wednesday night, then got his first big-league win when the Cincinnati Reds rallied for a 6-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Cuban left-hander threw two pitches that clocked 103 mph — his fastest yet — in his second straight unhittable performance.
The Reds stretched their NL Central lead to a season-high eight games over St. Louis, which lost to Houston 5-2. Cincinnati hasn't enjoyed such a big edge since 1995, the last time it reached the playoffs.
Ryan Hanigan's pinch-hit, three-run homer in the seventh off Todd Coffey (2-3) set up the Reds' three-game sweep.
The Reds have dominated Milwaukee all season, winning seven of eight. Now, they'll take their 22-year-old pitching sensation on the road for the first time, heading to St. Louis for a weekend series that's less of a showdown and more about survival for the defending NL Central champs.
St. Louis swept a three-game series in Cincinnati from Aug. 9-11, getting the best of everything except a brawl incited by second baseman Brandon Phillips' derogatory comments. The sweep left the Cardinals a game ahead with a 10-5 mark against Cincinnati.
Since then, everything has changed.
The Reds had the best record in the majors during August. The Cardinals have melted down, losing 13 of their last 16 games while sliding out of the race. Their final series with the Reds represents perhaps their final chance to get back into it.
Phillips was out of the starting lineup for the sixth straight game Wednesday because of a bruised right hand. Manager Dusty Baker said he could be back in the lineup in St. Louis.
Cardinals fans won't get a chance to boo starter Johnny Cueto, who kicked pitcher Chris Carpenter and catcher Jason LaRue during their brawl in Cincinnati. Cueto got a seven-game suspension, forcing him to miss a start. He gave up five hits and one run in six innings on Wednesday before turning it over to the Reds' new pitching sensation.
In his first two big-league appearances, Chapman has retired the six batters he faced, fanning three — all on sliders. He has thrown 19 pitches in all, 10 of them clocked at triple digits. Both times, he faced the bottom of the Brewers' order.
When the left-hander jogged to the mound on Wednesday, one fan held up a sign proclaiming: "Chapmania."
Not even close. Only 19,218 fans showed up Tuesday to watch his radar-busting debut. A day later, the crowd was down to 16,412.
NOTES: The Brewers called up 3B Mat Gamel, RHP Carlos Villanueva and RHP Jeremy Jeffress, a first-round pick suspended twice for violating baseball's drug policy. ... The Reds called up 1B Yonder Alonso, C Corky Miller and RHP Carlos Fisher. ... RF Jay Bruce missed a second straight game with a sore right side. ... SS Orlando Cabrera, on the DL since Aug. 2 with strained abdominal muscles, began a rehab stint in the minors. He could rejoin the team for the weekend series in St. Louis. ... It was Hanigan's first career pinch-hit homer.