Reds starter Mike Minor also was nicked for a home run, a two-run rip in the fourth inning by catcher Victor Caratini that gave the Brewers a 3-0 lead. In Minor’s 20 2/3s innings with the Reds, Minor’s major problem is the home run ball, six of them.
The Reds were facing Milwaukee starter Adrian Houser, who was 0-5 over his previous seven starts.
And after Milwaukee took the 3-0 lead, the Reds tied it with three in the bottom of the fourth.
Tommy Pham walked on a full count and Joey Votto singled on a full count. Pham scored on Kyle Farmer’s fielder’s choice and two runs scored on Albert Almora Jr.’s double to left.
The Brewers reclaimed the lead in the sixth on back-to-back one-out singles by Keston Hiura and Caratini, a walk to Tyrone Taylor and a sacrifice fly by Mark Mathias to make it 4-3.
Cincinnati’s bullpen blues continued when Kuhnel took over in the seventh. He gave up a one-out single to Andrew McCutchen and then Renfroe unloaded his cloud-parting homer for a 6-3 lead.
The Reds threatened in the seventh, loading the bases with two out against relief pitcher Trevor Kelly. But with Votto at the plate, left-hander Hoby Milner came in and struck out Votto on four pitches.
Brad Boxberger, Cincinnati’s No. 1 draft pick in 2009, retired the Reds in 1-2-3 order in the eighth. Boxberger was one of four players (Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal, Edinson Volquez) the Reds traded to San Diego for pitcher Mat Latos after the 2011 season.
With supreme closer Josh Hader on paternity leave, Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell sent set-up pitcher Devin Williams to close it in the ninth.
Williams dusted the Reds quickly on a grounder to third by Almora, a three-pitch strikeout of pinch-hitter Max Schrock and a three-pitch strikeout of Jonathan India, 0 for 10 the last two games.
Over the course of 27 innings during the series, the Reds did not own a lead on their way to a fourth straight defeat.
And the degree of difficulty spikes for the Reds. After Monday’s off day, the high-octane Los Angeles Dodgers arrive Tuesday for the start of a three-game series.