The Cincinnati Reds had two hits and scored one run in the first inning on Saturday night against the Milwaukee Brewers.
That inning wasn't the problem. It was the eight innings that followed and a Brewers offense that resembled every bit of a runaway freight train, leading to a 10-2 loss, Cincinnati's third in a row.
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Reds right-hander Graham Ashcraft, who was activated Saturday from the 15-day injured list following right bicep soreness, took the mound for his first start in over a month, and for a few innings, after Alejo Lopez's RBI single gave the Reds a 1-0 lead in the first, it looked like Ashcraft had settled in after his brief hiatus.
Until the fourth inning.
The entire Brewers lineup made it to the plate in the fourth and when the dust settled, the damage was five hits ‒ including a two-run home run from Hunter Renfroe ‒ and four runs, ending Ashcraft's return after just 70 pitches.
"That pitch to Renfroe, nobody wants to throw a slider middle-middle at 84. Because I mean, the ball got hit where it was supposed to," said Ashcraft. "I have to take accountability to myself and not let it get to me as much. It pissed me off because I know I either should have thrown the pitch better or I should have picked another pitch to throw. But at the same time, I mean, can't do much about it. You've just got to get to the next pitch. I just kind of harped on a little bit too long."
Reds manager David Bell said, "He started off strong. When he came out of the game, Graham said he still felt strong. That’s the main thing. His first start back, he has two more left. First three (innings) were really strong. I thought the Renfroe home run, that at-bat kind of changed that inning. He makes a little pitch there, whatever, we get to two outs and it might be a totally different situation and maybe he gets two more innings. But as soon as that happened, it seemed like Graham couldn’t get that third out. It led to too many pitches. First time back, I didn’t want to stress him with two starts left. Got that one out of the way."
In the fifth inning, Renfroe did it again, blasting another two-run home run, his 27th of the season, this time off reliever Connor Overton.
The Brewers added three more runs in the seventh off an RBI double from Willy Adames, a single from Renfroe, his fourth hit and fifth RBI of the night, and a single from Luis Urias. Rowdy Tellez added the Brewers' third home run of the game in the ninth inning after the Reds moved Lopez from second base to pitcher.
After the first inning, the Reds only had two hits the rest of the game, and both were in the seventh inning when Matt Reynolds drove in Stuart Fairchild for Cincinnati's second run of the game.
The Reds will try to avoid a fourth straight loss on Sunday at Great American Ball Park in the series finale.
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Renfroe posts career night, Brewers hand Reds third straight loss