MILWAUKEE - Marco Estrada says he's feeling better. It's hard to tell when he's on the mound.
The most homer-prone pitcher in baseball surrendered three more to the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday, and the Milwaukee Brewers' bullpen let the game get out of reach by allowing eight runs over the last two innings in a 13-4 loss.
Estrada (5-4) has now given up 23 home runs in just 84 innings, including 18 since May 1. His spot in the rotation could be in jeopardy with top prospect Jimmy Nelson sporting a 7-1 record and 1.51 ERA at Triple-A Nashville.
"Whatever happens, happens. I have no control over it. I can't complain, either," Estrada said. "If something does happen, I deserve it. If something doesn't happen, great. Mentally it'll just build up my confidence even more."
Billy Hamilton led off the game with a home run, and Brandon Phillips added a two-run drive later in the first inning off Estrada.
The right-hander settled down after that inning. He even contributed a bases-loaded single off Mike Leake (4-6) to help to tie the game at 3 in the fourth.
But Todd Frazier hit his team-high 15th homer in the fifth to give Cincinnati a lead it wouldn't relinquish.
"It was a step in the right direction which I know ... probably doesn't sound right because of what happened but it really was," Estrada said. "Mentally, I'm strong right now — stronger than I have been ... Things are going to get better."
Manager Ron Roenicke is hoping he can still get Estrada back on track. The pitcher's location has been off. Homers to Hamilton and Phillips came on off-speed pitches up in the zone.
"I like him as a starter," Roenicke said. "I like him, obviously, when he's pitching well. He's not pitching well right now. He's making mistakes, and they're not missing it."
Ryan Ludwick had three doubles and got four of the Reds' season-high 19 hits. Frazier also doubled and drove in four runs.
Ahead 5-4, the Reds broke it open by scoring five runs in the eighth. Rob Wooten allowed six straight hits without recording an out.
Cincinnati added three more runs in the ninth while taking two of three from the NL Central leaders.
"We know we can do it, but we haven't been doing it a lot," Frazier said. "Today, it showed we can do those (kinds) of things and we got a pitcher that we can hit a little bit."
The Reds moved back within two games of .500 despite Leake's rocky outing. He allowed four runs and nine hits in five innings.
Leake gave up Jonathan Lucroy's homer to center leading off the fifth.
The Reds led 3-0 in the fourth when Milwaukee loaded the bases with two outs on an intentional walk to Jean Segura. Estrada followed with his RBI chopper up the middle and Scooter Gennett then sliced a double the other way down the left-field line to tie it.
But the game got away, and next up for Milwaukee is a seven-game road trip to Arizona and Colorado.
Estrada's next turn would come Friday in Denver. When asked about making a move from Estrada to Nelson in the rotation, Roenicke just said "Next start's in Colorado."
NOTES: Reds LHP Tony Cingrani pitched scoreless two innings in his first relief appearance since getting bumped from the rotation following the return of Mat Latos from the disabled list. ... Brewers LHP Tom Gorzelanny tossed a scoreless sixth inning in his season debut after coming off the disabled list Saturday. Gorzelanny had offseason shoulder surgery. ... The Reds have an off day Monday before starting a series Tuesday in Pittsburgh. ... RHP Wily Peralta (6-5) has returned to the Brewers after attending to a personal matter in his native Dominican Republic. Peralta, who did not miss a start, said he is ready for his next outing Monday in Arizona.
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