CINCINNATI — Kolten Wong hit a career-high three homers and drove in five runs, helping Brandon Woodruff and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Cincinnati Reds 5-1 on Thursday night.
Wong had a two-run drive in the second inning against Hunter Greene. He had another two-point shot in the sixth against Dauri Moreta and a solo drive in the eighth against Joel Kuhnel.
Wong has a career-high 15 home runs this season.
“I’m definitely not a guy who hits three home runs very often,” Wong said. “I had the chance to do it a few times, but I tried to do too much. I just tried not to do too much and keep my swing tight.”
Milwaukee finished with just four hits, but each of Wong’s first two homers came after the first walks.
“We had four hits,” manager Craig Counsell said. “Kolton had three, and all three were home runs. It was pretty amazing. He was definitely a one-man show on offense.”
Wong is the third Milwaukee second baseman to hit three home runs in one game. Dale Sveum did it on July 17, 1987 against the Angels, and Aaron Hill accomplished the feat on May 7, 2016 in Cincinnati.
The second-placed Brewers (80-70) opened a four-game set against lowly Cincinnati with their second straight win. They remained 2½ games behind Philadelphia for the NL’s third wild card.
Woodruff (12-4) struck out 11 in six innings. He allowed three hits and walked two.
The 6-foot-4 right-hander has 32 strikeouts in his last three starts — all wins. He’s struck out at least 11 in three of his four starts against the Reds this season.
“I think it starts with rhythm and timing — simple things,” Woodruff said. “I always get more ahead. I try to get them to swing early.”
Counsell sees the right-hander returning to form after missing most of June with right ankle and finger injuries.
“He’s getting better,” Counsell said. “When he came back from injury he was good, but now he’s even better at a good time for us.”
Kyle Farmer hit his 13th homer in the sixth to represent Cincinnati’s only run. Greene (4-13) struck out eight in five innings.
The NL Central game drew a crowd of 9,889, the sixth under 10,000 this season at the Great American Ball Park.
After throwing 47 pitches at at least 100 mph in a 1-0 loss at St. Louis on Saturday, Greene hit triple digits 15 times against Milwaukee, according to Statcast.
“I felt solid,” Greene said. “I felt really good. Those walks hurt me. They’re a good hitting team. It’s always a battle when I’m up against those guys. They’re pretty good at hitting mistakes. There’s had times where I quit. Tried to elevate a fastball to Wong. It kinda sank into the plate.