MILWAUKEE — Freddy Peralta pitched six scoreless innings and matched a career high with 13 strikeouts, Tyrone Taylor hit a two-run homer and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Cincinnati Reds 3-0 on Wednesday.
The Brewers (57-46) took two of three games in the series and extended their lead in the NL Central to 1 1/2 games over the Reds (56-48). This marked the final matchup of the season between the teams, with Milwaukee winning the season series 10-3. It was the Brewers' 12th shutout victory of the season.
“He was dialed in with everything today. He was ahead in the count often. No waste pitches. Competitive pitches right away," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said of Peralta. “This is as well as you’ve seen Freddy pitch."
After Abraham Toro singled with one out in the seventh off Cincinnati starter Ben Lively (4-6), Taylor followed with a 417-foot blast to left field on the first pitch from Lively to break a scoreless tie. It was just the second home run of the season for Taylor.
“To be able to come through for the team there is huge," said Taylor, who has struggled this season while dealing with injuries. “It felt great. I’m just glad to contribute today.”
Taylor entered the day with a .153 average.
“It wasn’t a bad location, but there wasn’t enough on it. He guessed right," Lively said of the game-changing pitch to Taylor.
Milwaukee extended the lead on Andrew Monasterio's run-scoring double in the eighth.
Peralta was in a groove from the start. He struck out the side on 11 pitches in the first inning and whiffed the first two batters in the second before Joey Votto’s single.
The 13 strikeouts matched the total Peralta had in his major league debut on May 13, 2018, against the Rockies in Colorado. It was his ninth career game with 10 or more strikeouts and third this season. Peralta and three Brewers relievers combined for 18 strikeouts.
“He was just locked in with every pitch today,” Counsell said. "Lots of command. He was throwing this unique fastball that they had never seen before. Mature outing. It was really, really good.”
Peralta gave up four hits and didn’t walk a batter. He threw 89 pitches, 60 for strikes. T.J. Friedl had two of the Reds' four hits off the right-hander, a bunt single and a double.
“I was feeling great today,” Peralta said. “I was feeling that I had everything working. Since the first inning, I was comfortable.”
Peralta hasn’t gone more than six innings in any of his 20 starts this season.
Counsell said he struggled with the decision to pull Peralta.
“It was tough, for sure, but he worked really hard," Counsell said. "Hot in the stadium. Four days' rest, most of his starts have been on five. With the guys we got down there (in the bullpen) and the big picture of the long haul, it was the right thing to do.”
Elvis Peguero, Joel Payamps and Devin Williams completed the shutout for the Brewers. Peguero (2-3) got the win while Williams retired the side in order in the ninth to record his 26th save in 28 attempts.
Lively gave up eight hits and two runs in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out three and didn’t walk a batter.
Brewers: Placed OF Jesse Winker on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to Tuesday, with back spasms and recalled Toro from Triple-A Nashville.
The Brewers and Reds won’t meet again over the final two-plus months of the regular season.
“That falls into the category of falling out of our control,” Reds manager David Bell said. “I really understand the importance of playing the divisional opponent who you are battling it out with. Those are important games. But we have a lot of games left that are going to be very important and that’ll be our focus."
Reds: LHP Brandon Williams (2-2, 4.60 ERA) starts the opener of a three-game series against the Dodgers in Los Angeles on Friday. Williams has posted a 1.80 ERA in his last three starts.
Brewers: RHP Adrian Houser (3-2, 3.88) gets the start as Milwaukee opens a three-game series on Friday at Atlanta. Houser is 0-3 with a 3.42 ERA in five career games (four starts) against the Braves.