CINCINNATI – The Milwaukee Brewers have the National League's best home winning percentage. They added to the NL's worst road winning percentage.
Jay Bruce hit a three-run home run and Travis Wood turned in six mostly solid innings as the Cincinnati Reds rebounded from a disastrous road trip with a 7-3 win over Milwaukee on Monday night.
Bruce tripled for the first time this season and finished a double short of the cycle as the Reds successfully opened a 10-day, nine-game homestand after a 2-8 trip.
The trend may have an adverse mental effect on the club.
"The more things that happen on the negative end of things, it gets in your head a bit," Brewers first-year manager Ron Roenicke said.
The Brewers, who went 8-1 on their last homestand, saw their road record fall to 8-18 (.308), including 0-4 this season and 1-11 over the last two in Cincinnati. They are 1-6 against the Reds overall this season and 4-17 over the last two years.
Wood (4-3) allowed three runs and seven hits while not walking anybody and striking out two. He is 3-0 in four career starts against Milwaukee over the last two years.
Bruce tripled and scored on Jonny Gomes' sacrifice fly in the second against Milwaukee left-hander Chris Narveson. Two innings later, following Votto's second walk in as many plate appearances and Scott Rolen's single, Bruce launched an 0-2 pitch 422 feet into the right field seats for his league-leading 16th homer of the season and 12th in May.
"Sometimes you get a two-strike count and you know you have to throw a breaking ball in the dirt. You try to throw it too hard and you hang it," Roenicke said.
Narveson (2-4) lasted only four innings, allowing five hits and five runs with two walks and strikeouts.
Narveson, who failed to get past the fourth inning in his other start against Cincinnati on April 25, has allowed 12 earned runs combined in his two starts against the Reds.
He took the blame.
"It was a dumb pitch," Narveson said. "Bruce is hot right now. If you leave a pitch up, he's going to hit it. I had two strikes on Rolen, Bruce and Gomes back-to-back-to-back and left a pitch up to all three of them. If I make a pitch and get a ground ball it's a different game."
Narveson allowed six runs in 3 1-3 innings in his last start but Roenicke is not concerned.
"I'm still confident when he goes out there that he will pitch a good game," Roenicke said. "He has to stay away from that one big inning. He needs to figure out a way to make a good pitch when he needs to."
He is tied with Adam Dunn — who hit 12 home runs in July 2008 — for the most homers by a Red in a calendar month since Greg Vaughn tied the club record with 14 in September 1999. He has hit six of Cincinnati's last seven home runs and eight of the last 10.
Bruce's three-run shot gave him 32 RBIs in May, one more than Dunn in July 2008. The last Reds player with more than 32 in a month could not immediately be determined.
"You accept the deal with Bruce and hope he doesn't wake up," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "You want him to stay natural. He's not missing pitches when he gets one to hit or fouling them off."
Bruce credits his pitch selection.
"I've been making better decisions at the plate about what to swing at," Bruce said.
Gomes followed the homer with a double and scored on Paul Janish's single.
Consecutive home runs by Carlos Gomez and Josh Wilson, pinch-hitting for Naverson, and Ryan Braun's RBI double left the Reds leading 5-3 after five innings. Wilson's homer was his first since last Sept. 26, at Tampa Bay for Seattle.
The Reds tacked on two runs with two outs in the sixth with help from the Brewers. Ryan Hanigan and Janish singled off right-hander Sergio Mitre, followed by pinch-hitter Fred Lewis' single up the middle. Hanigan beat Gomez's throw to catcher Jonathon Lucroy, whose throw to first trying to catch Lewis was too high for second baseman Rickie Weeks to handle, allowing Janish to score an unearned run.
Notes: The Reds' eight losses on their last trip were the most since they lost eight on a 12-game trip from June 20 through July 3, 2003. They lost eight games on a 10-game trip for the first time since April 15-25, 1996. ... Cincinnati didn't make it official, but RHP Chad Reineke is the projected starter Tuesday against Milwaukee. The appearance will be his first in the majors since starting for Oakland against Texas on Aug. 5, 2009. Reineke is 5-2 with a 2.52 ERA in 10 games, nine of them starts, with Triple-A Louisville. ... Milwaukee RHP Takashi Saito, on the 60-day DL with a strained left hamstring, was expected to throw in the bullpen Tuesday and three or four more times after that before trying a simulated game, Roenicke said before Monday's game.
(This version CORRECTS Reds 7, Brewers 3. Corrects spelling of Narveson throughout. Corrects Milwaukee catcher to Jonathon Lucroy.)