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Brewers send Reds to fourth straight loss

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Moments after his first major-league victory was clinched, left-hander Zach Jackson met the two-dozen relatives who drove in from Pittsburgh and presented them with two game-used baseballs.

See, they didn't all wind up in the stands.

The 23-year-old rookie gave up four homers and was facing his first big-league loss Monday night when the Milwaukee Brewers
rallied for a 6-5 victory over the slumping Cincinnati Reds. Prince Fielder hit a tying homer in the eighth, and Rickie Weeks followed with a go-ahead single.

Quite a way to get that first win.

"That's the kind of pitcher I am," said Jackson, who challenged the NL's more homer-reliant lineup. "I'd rather make them earn it. If that's what happens, I give up a couple of runs, so be it."

The comeback was stirring for the Brewers -- only their fifth win in the last 16 games -- but the rookie's start was the most encouraging. Milwaukee's downturn is directly tied to its depleted pitching staff.

Since Ben Sheets and Tomo Ohka went on the disabled list in early May, their replacements have gone 2-11. And one of those wins
now belongs to Jackson (1-0), who has clearly been the best of the backup bunch in two starts.

"He did a nice job," manager Ned Yost said. "The home runs obviously hurt him, but he was on the attack. He got us through seven. We haven't had that luxury with the pitchers we've been trying to fill in those spots with, and he's done it twice."

The Brewers took advantage of Cincinnati's shorthanded bullpen and sent the Reds to their fourth straight loss. Fielder led off the eighth with a homer off Kent Mercker (0-1) on a 1-2 pitch, tying it at 5.

"That's just a game we should have won right there," Mercker said. "I have no excuses. I've been through this before. When it goes bad, it goes bad. I throw one bad pitch, and it's a home run. When you're going good, that same pitch is popped up."

After Brady Clark singled with two outs and pinch-hitter Jeff Cirillo worked the count full before drawing a walk, Weeks lined a run-scoring single off closer Todd Coffey, brought into the game earlier than usual because of the injury-thinned bullpen.

Once the Brewers got the lead, left-hander Brian Shouse pitched a perfect eighth and Derrick Turnbow got the last three outs for his 18th save in 22 chances.

Jackson learned the hard way that it's a losing proposition to leave pitches over the plate at Great American Ball Park, one of the majors' most homer-friendly fields. The Brewers hadn't allowed four homers in any game all season.

David Ross hit two of them and Adam Dunn and Jason LaRue each
had a solo shot for Cincinnati, which scored all of its runs off homers. The Reds lead the National League with 95 overall, and Milwaukee is next with 90.

The last time a Milwaukee pitcher gave up four homers was Aug. 6, 2003, when Atlanta hit that many off Wayne Franklin.

Dunn started the Reds' power show with a 432-foot homer in the second inning, his 21st. The solo homer extended a trend for Dunn, who is 4-for-14 in the last five games with three solo homers.

Ross hit a two-run shot in the fifth, and LaRue followed with a pinch-hit homer that tied it at 4. LaRue has lost the starting catching job because of his prolonged slump -- the homer was only his second hit since May 19.

Ross hit a solo shot with one out in the seventh for the third two-homer game of his career and a 5-4 lead. Jackson gave up nine hits in seven innings and struck out six, including shortstop Felipe Lopez four times.

Reds starter Aaron Harang was ill and struggled with his control through five innings, giving up four runs while throwing 108 pitches.

"I don't want to make excuses for him, but he wasn't feeling good today or last night," manager Jerry Narron said. "But he still wanted to take the ball. I give him credit for that."

Carlos Lee hit a solo homer and had one of the Brewers' three sacrifice flies off Harang. Lee has three homers in his last 10 games, leaving him with 21 overall.

Game notes
Right-hander Rick Helling is scheduled to make his next rehab start on Thursday for Triple-A Nashville and then return to Milwaukee to be examined. Helling has been on the disabled list since April 16 with a sprained right elbow. ... Clark was back in the Brewers' lineup after missing one game because of a strained shoulder. He went 1-for-4. ... Reds reliever David Weathers won't throw a ball for a few days, resting his tired arm. He had to leave a game Sunday after feeling numbness in the arm. ... The Reds have five pinch-hit homers this season. LaRue has four in his career. ... Ross' last two-homer game was April 15 last season.