CINCINNATI -- Ken Macha has seen the Home Run Derby turn power hitters into hapless swingers. So when Prince Fielder won the All-Star competition this week, the Milwaukee Brewers manager wondered if it would mess with his swing.
One homer eased his mind.
Fielder hit a three-run shot that got Milwaukee's offense going and the Brewers took a first step in turning themselves around after the All-Star break by beating the Cincinnati Reds 9-6 on Thursday night.
Fielder won the All-Star home run competition on Monday night in St. Louis by hitting 23 balls over the wall. His homer Thursday was his 23rd of the season. Fielder got the Brewers started on their second-half quest -- catching the Cardinals in the NL Central -- by connecting in the third inning off Homer Bailey (1-1).
Obviously, the derby didn't mess him up.
"I swing hard," Fielder said. "So I'm not going to say it couldn't, but I really don't worry about that as much."
Macha did. Asked if he has concerns about Fielder being affected by all those swings in the derby, Macha quickly replied, "Sure do. But coming out and hitting one like that tonight, maybe it had no effect on him."
Braden Looper (8-4) went 5 1/3 innings and had three hits of his own, including a broken-bat RBI single that extended Milwaukee's five-run rally in the sixth inning. The three hits -- all singles -- matched his total for the season and were a career high.
"I don't know," Looper said. "Just one of those things, one of those days. I didn't have some masterful plan. I was just trying to swing and hit it."
The Brewers went into the All-Star break losing eight of 11, a slide that dropped them into second place behind St. Louis. The victory on Thursday moved them two games behind the idle Cardinals.
"We finished the first half on a little bit of a downer note," Macha said. "All wins are good, some better than others. It's nice to get a start like that."
The Reds have dropped seven of nine, falling four games under .500 for the first time this season and deflating their hopes of staying in the race.
Fielder, the Brewers' most consistent hitter all season, got them started by connecting on a 93-mph down-the-middle fastball in the third inning. Bailey began berating himself as soon as the ball left the bat, stomping his right foot on the mound and muttering to himself.
"I made some bad pitches, like the one to Prince," Bailey said. "He won the Home Run Derby, and I guess he carried it over to Cincinnati."
Fielder set a club record with 78 RBIs before the All-Star break. With 81 now, he's on pace to shatter Cecil Cooper's franchise record of 126 RBIs in 1983.
The Brewers sent 10 batters to the plate for five runs in the sixth. Bailey was charged with a career-high seven runs, though the bullpen had a big hand in it. Bailey left with the bases loaded and the Reds down 4-2, but Nick Masset gave up a two-run single by J.J. Hardy and Looper's third hit of the game.
Joey Votto hit a two-run homer off Looper, who gave up seven hits and three runs. Since returning from a stay on the disabled list to deal with his father's death, Votto has batted .346 with four homers in 20 games.
Brewers right-hander Dave Bush, on the DL with a small tear in his triceps, was sent for another exam after feeling fatigue in the arm during a rehab start on Wednesday night. It's now unlikely he'll be activated next week. ... Looper was 3-for-30 this season coming into the game. ... All-Star outfielder Ryan Braun had an infield single that snapped an 0-for-16 slump. ... Reds right fielder Chris Dickerson was scratched from the lineup because of back spasms. He hurt his back last Sunday in New York.