MILWAUKEE -- Reds manager Dusty Baker had a simple message for his players before they faced the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday night: Stay positive and good luck will come our way.
It didn't take very long for Baker's words to resonate with his frustrated team.
Jay Bruce sparked Cincinnati's five-run 10th inning with a leadoff homer and the Reds beat the Milwaukee Brewers 8-4 after the defending NL Central champions cleared the air during a pregame team meeting.
"Team meetings, they help and they're not always negative. Today was just kind of a meeting of reinforcement, reiteration that we do have the talent to win here," Bruce said. "You have to think like you're a winner. Some stuff hasn't gone our way lately, and that's OK, that's OK. That's baseball."
The Reds, who also got an early home run from Ramon Hernandez, had lost six of eight to fall a season-worst two games under .500 and appeared to be in trouble several times in this one.
But Bruce hit a towering drive to right against Marco Estrada (2-6) for his 21st homer, and the Reds tacked on four more runs while sending 10 men to the plate.
Milwaukee was again without Ryan Braun and blew a big opportunity in the ninth.
"We just have to put this one behind us and move on," catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. "It was a tough loss."
Before the game, Baker called for a meeting and wouldn't say what he planned to discuss, but afterward called it a good reminder that the Reds are in the thick of the NL Central even after a bumpy stretch.
"I told my guys, you've got to think positive, think lucky and keep thinking positive and lucky and good things will happen," Baker said. "When the team's not going good, you just try to make it short and sweet."
It didn't appear that much had changed until Bruce belted his third homer in four games. After losing consecutive one-run games, everyone else got involved in Cincinnati's offensive outburst, too.
"Dusty's competitive. Obviously he wants to win and he wanted to remind us we have two games left, let's not sleep into the All-Star break here," Scott Rolen said. "We can make up a little ground right now."
The Reds are three games behind the Brewers and Cardinals for first place in the NL Central.
Rolen doubled after Bruce's homer and moved to third on Edgar Renteria's sacrifice. Hernandez then hit an RBI single, and Miguel Cairo, Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips each drove in a run later in the inning.
Bray (2-1) immediately threw errantly to first, allowing Weeks to advance to second. Nyjer Morgan struck out on a sacrifice attempt, slamming his helmet in frustration in the dugout after it rolled foul. Corey Hart followed with a fly ball that would've been plenty for a sacrifice fly, but instead only moved Weeks to third.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke spoke with Morgan briefly after the game.
"I have to keep my head up. I was a little frustrated there that I didn't get the job done," Morgan said. "I was hoping my boys behind me were going to pick me up and we were going to win it right there. It was just one of those things where the kid didn't get the bunt down and, you know. It was just that one run."
Reds closer Francisco Cordero gave up a run in the 10th after allowing three the night before, but managed to close it out.
Braun missed his seventh straight game with a strained left calf and will not play in Tuesday's All-Star Game. Rolen was added to the NL squad during the game as a replacement for Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones and will join teammates Bruce, Votto and Phillips in Arizona.
"It's an honor. Chipper's so old, they upgraded in age and youth," said the 36-year-old Rolen, who plans to pick up his children before heading to Phoenix. "My daughter cried the first time. She didn't think I'd come home for the All-Star break."
For the third straight game, the teams swapped leads back-and-forth in the early innings.
Milwaukee went up 2-0 in the first on singles by Hart and Kotsay. The Reds took a 3-2 lead in the second on Fred Lewis' double and Hernandez's two-run homer to straightaway center field. Milwaukee tied it in the bottom of the second on Shaun Marcum's suicide squeeze.
The Reds left 12 runners on base as a team, with Rolen failing with nine runners on base in his first four at-bats.
"I left a small village on base, not through lack of effort. Things weren't going my way," Rolen said. "Jay leads off with a home run and everybody started putting some good at-bats together."
The teams wore replica uniforms as part of Milwaukee's sixth annual Negro Leagues tribute with the Brewers representing the 1923 Milwaukee Bears and the Reds honoring the 1936-37 Cincinnati Tigers. ... Kotsay has an eight-game hitting streak. ... The Reds will start LHP Dontrelle Willis on Sunday. Willis had been 5-2 with a 2.63 ERA in 13 starts at Louisville this year, but hasn't pitched in the majors in more than a year ... Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen is replacing Braun on the NL All-Star roster.