Gabe Gross took advantage of an extra pitch, and Geoff Jenkins did likewise on a bad pitch. Together they helped the Milwaukee Brewers snap a five-game skid.
Gross and Jenkins each hit three-run homers Saturday night, leading Milwaukee past the Cincinnati Reds 8-4 and keeping the Brewers within a half-game of NL Central-leading Chicago, which defeated St. Louis 5-3 earlier in the day.
In the third inning, Gross hit a 2-2 pitch from Elizardo Ramirez that just cleared the glove of leaping Josh Hamilton in center. Gross' sixth homer followed consecutive two-out singles by starting pitcher Claudio Vargas and Rickie Weeks.
Gross' homer came after Reds catcher Javier Valentin dropped a foul ball which would've been a third strike and the end of the inning.
"When I fouled it off, I heard it hit his glove and I looked back and he was reaching for another ball," Gross said. "I thought he caught it."
Jenkins' homer came in the sixth inning, when Cincinnati intentionally walked hot-hitting Ryan Braun. The left-handed hitting Jenkins drove a 2-1 pitch from Mike Stanton well over the center-field wall for his third homer off a left-hander this season.
"That was a jolt for us," Jenkins said. "I didn't need a homer -- I was just trying to move the chains. It was nice to hit a home run."
Stanton thought the entire game changed when Jenkins hit his 19th of the year.
"It's just a shame," Stanton said. "If I can do my job and get Jenkins out, I don't think there's any doubt we win the game."
The Brewers had been outscored 42-14 during their five-game losing streak.
While Gross and Jenkins ignited the offense, Vargas (10-4) became the Brewers' second 10-game winner, matching Ben Sheets. Vargas, who won for the first time since July 27 at St. Louis, pitched 5 2/3 innings and allowed one run and seven hits. He struck out five and walked five.
"Claudio came out and attacked," Brewers manager Ned Yost said. "He was focused and more determined as I've ever seen him."
Ramirez (0-1) made his first start for the Reds since Aug. 12, 2006, when he lasted just 1 1/3 innings and received a no-decision at Philadelphia. He was recalled from Triple-A Louisville on Saturday and threw five innings, allowing three runs and five hits with a strikeout and no walks.
"I liked Ramirez," Reds manager Pete Mackanin said. "I thought he threw a lot of strikes, a lot of quality strikes. He just made that one mistake to Gross."
Ramirez may have fared better if the Reds could have taken advantage of early opportunities. Cincinnati had a runner reach base in each of the first five innings, including four who made it into scoring position.
But a runner was doubled off second base on a line drive in the fourth and another stranded on third to end the fifth inning.
Cincinnati finally broke through in the sixth when Valentin scored Brandon Phillips on a single to center. The Reds eventually loaded the bases, but reliever Brian Shouse struck out Hamilton on a breaking ball, ending the threat.
"Shousey got out of a big jam," Yost said. "That's a good lineup over there. They can put up runs pretty quick."
The Reds tried to answer Jenkins' homer in the seventh when they loaded the bases with no outs. But Carlos Villanueva got Adam Dunn to hit into a double play, allowing one run to score. Scott Hatteberg singled in a run to make it 6-3 before Villanueva recorded the final out of the inning.
Milwaukee added to its lead in the eighth when Prince Fielder doubled in Corey Hart. Braun then drove in Fielder to make it 8-3.
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