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CINCINNATI — Billy Hamilton homered and Alfredo Simon pitched seven strong innings, lifting the Cincinnati Reds to a 4-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers in the opener of a three-game series between National League Central rivals on Friday night at Great American Ball Park.

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Catcher Jonathan Lucroy hit his ninth home run of the season for the Brewers.

Simon (11-3) followed his usual script for success by allowing Brewers batters to put the ball in play. He gave up two runs and six hits with two walks and three strikeouts while becoming the NL’s third 11-game winner.

Cincinnati’s outfield contributed two defensive gems.

Hamilton made a leaping grab of Ryan Braun’s drive in the sixth inning before crashing into the center field wall. Left fielder Skip Schumaker’s diving catch prevented an extra-base hit by Carlos Gomez in the eighth. Schumaker also went 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI.

Cincinnati (44-41) won for the ninth time in 13 games and improved to 6-2 this season against Milwaukee (51-36).

Brewers starter Kyle Lohse (9-3) allowed four runs (three earned) and seven hits in five innings. He walked one and struck out eight. Five of his Ks came in the first two innings.

Reds closer Aroldis Chapman pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his 17th save.

Lohse started strong against his former club, striking out the first three batters he faced and five of the first seven.

But Cincinnati broke through with one out in the third when Hamilton launched Lohse’s first pitch into the visitors’ bullpen in right field for a two-run homer, putting the Reds ahead 2-0. It was Hamilton’s fifth home run this season.

In the fourth, catcher Devin Mesoraco narrowly missed a home run on a ball that got over leaping Gomez in center. He settled for a double and scored on Schumaker’s double, making it 3-0.

Simon, meanwhile, pitched five shutout innings, allowing three hits with no strikeouts.

Third baseman Todd Frazier reached on a fielding error by first baseman Lyle Overbay and scored Cincinnati’s fourth run on Joey Votto’s double in the fifth.

  • Milwaukee recalled OF Logan Schafer from Triple-A Nashville on Friday to replace INF/OF Elian Herrera, who was optioned to Triple-A on Thursday.
  • Brewers LF Khris Davis missed his second straight start after tweaking a muscle in his left shoulder during the seventh inning on Tuesday.
  • Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said he wouldn’t discourage CF Carlos Gomez from participating in the Home Run Derby. “I don’t think anything’s going to ruin that swing,” he said.
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