CINCINNATI (AP) — Sonny Gray didn’t want to leave the game — not with another starring performance by Yasiel Puig putting him in position to beat the Milwaukee Brewers again.
Gray talked his way into facing one more batter in the eighth inning, and the Cincinnati Reds held on for a 3-0 victory Wednesday night after they lost second baseman Scooter Gennett to a groin injury.
“That was a really fun moment,” said Gray, who matched his career high by fanning 12 .
Puig homered for the second straight game, scored twice and added a sacrifice fly, his second night in a row with starring moments. On Tuesday night, Puig scored the winning run with a dash to the plate on a throwing error in the 11th inning for a 5-4 victory.
Puig caught Manny Pina’s fly ball at the wall in the eighth for the second out. After Gray walked pinch-hitter Yasmani Grandal, manager David Bell went to the mound thinking he might replace his starter. Gray quickly talked him out of it.
“I just said can I please finish this?” Gray said .
Well, it was a bit more emphatic.
“There was no doubt when I saw the look on his face,” Bell said.
Gray (5-5) retired Lorenzo Cain on a fly ball and was finished after 111 pitches. He allowed four hits and walked one, using his curveball to keep the Brewers off-balance. He also got a boost when fans loudly cheered Bell for leaving him in to get one more out.
“I got an extra pep in my step when they were giving me a little love,” Gray said. “I’m glad to do what I could to give it back.”
Gray handled a starting lineup missing All-Stars Grandal and Christian Yelich, who were getting some rest. Raisel Iglesias pitched the ninth for his 15th save in 17 chances.
The only worry for the Reds was Gennett’s latest physical problem. He left after two at-bats because of tightness in the left side of his groin.
Gennett was an All-Star last year and the Reds’ most productive hitter over the last two seasons, but he suffered a severe injury to the other side of his groin during spring training and had been sidelined until last week. He has two singles in 19 at-bats over five games.
Bell said they’d have a better idea of Gennett’s condition on Thursday.
Puig connected in the second inning off Jhoulys Chacin (3-9), who hasn’t won since April. The right-hander is 0-6 in his last nine games with a 5.93 ERA. He struck out a season-high eight and allowed seven hits.
“It’s frustrating,” Chacin said. “Hopefully, my second half will be better and I’ll pitch deeper into games with more consistency.”
Chacin felt a cramp in his right side after running to cover first base in the fifth inning. Manager Craig Counsell and a trainer visited the mound, but the right-hander remained in the game. He left after giving up Puig’s single and Jose Iglesias’ RBI single in the seventh.
Chacin has allowed a total of three runs in his last two starts, an encouraging sign.
“From the third through the sixth, he was on as good of a roll as he’s been all year,” Counsell said. “That’s encouraging. His effort was down and his velocity was up.”
Gennett changed his walk-up song, trying to snap out of his slump. He tweeted at Darius Rucker pregame that he’s going with his version of “Wagon Wheel.” Rucker tweeted back his approval. Gennett used it for both of his at-bats.
Utility player Hernán Pérez cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A San Antonio. The Brewers designated Perez for assignment on June 28. He could have become a free agent.
“He’s certainly still in the picture with us,” Counsell said.
Brewers: Left-hander Gio Gonzalez threw in the bullpen. He’ll have another bullpen session over the weekend and could begin a rehab assignment next week. He’s been sidelined since June 1 with a sore arm.
Reds: Center fielder Nick Senzel was scheduled to get a day off, but he went into the game after Gennett left.
Brewers: Brandon Woodruff (10-2) fanned a career-high 12 during a 7-5 win over the Reds at Miller Park on June 23, allowing three runs in seven innings.
Reds: Luis Castillo (7-3) has yet to beat the Brewers in three tries this season. He’s allowed 11 runs in 13 1/3 innings as the Reds lost 1-0, 11-9 and 6-5.