MILWAUKEE — For one night, Homer Bailey looked as he’d never left.
Bailey struck out 11 in six scoreless innings in his third game back from Tommy John surgery in the Cincinnati Reds’ 7-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday night.
“That was fun for me to watch,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “It looked like the Homer Bailey that we knew before the injury.”
Bailey (2-1) flashed all the abilities — and all of the pitches — that landed him a $105 million, six-year contract in 2014.
The right-hander was especially dominant against the top of Milwaukee’s order of Jonathan Villar, promising rookie Orlando Arcia and Ryan Braun. The trio combined to go 0 for 9 with seven strikeouts against Bailey.
Still, he had to lobby Price and pitching coach Mack Jenkins to go back in before the sixth, where he struck out the side to finish his night.
“Mack has known Homer from the time he (first) signed in 2004 and I’ve known Homer since 2010. So there’s a lot of familiarity with each other,” Price said. “We have a lot of faith in Homer.”
Bailey said the feeling is mutual.
“I know where his head and his heart are at,” Bailey said. “I have so much trust with those guys, I don’t want to know. I just want to pitch. When I get out, I get out. When I’m out there, I’m out there.”
Adam Duvall hit his 27th home run and Billy Hamilton stole three bases to push his major league-leading total to 51.
Milwaukee starter Jimmy Nelson (6-12) labored through five innings, allowing three runs off six hits and three walks.
“Other than the Duvall homer, there wasn’t a ton of hard contact. That’s where Jimmy’s at,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “That’s why being in the strike zone, being around the strike zone with close misses is so important.”
Expected to be a key contributor in Milwaukee’s rotation, Nelson hasn’t been reliable since May. After getting the first two outs of the game, he loaded the bases on a walk, a hit batter and a single before walking in a run.
It wouldn’t get much better from there. Duvall, Cincinnati’s All-Star left fielder, hit a solo homer off Nelson in third and the Reds pounced on Milwaukee’s bullpen, plating four runs in the seventh.
Ramon Flores hit a solo shot in the eighth, and Manny Pina hit a three-run homer with two outs in the ninth for the Brewers.
MAN OF STEAL
Hamilton stole bases on back-to-back pitches in the second and swiped his 51st base in the fourth, but was caught stealing later in the inning on a nice pickoff play by Nelson. Hamilton has 12 steals in his last five games.
The Brewers didn’t score until the eighth after they became the eighth team since 1961 to score in every inning they hit in in an 11-3 victory over Atlanta on Thursday.
Counsell was ejected by plate umpire Bill Miller before the eighth.
“We had a little disagreement about balls and strikes,” Counsell said.
Reds: Both Scott Schebler (calf) and Brandon Phillips (quad) returned to the lineup after both left Tuesday’s win over the Cardinals. Cincinnati had a day off on Thursday.
Reds: Dan Straily (7-6, 3.76 ERA) is 3-0 with a 1.93 ERA in his last five starts for Cincinnati, which is 16-10 since the All-Star break.
BREWERS: Milwaukee sends Zach Davies (9-4, 3.58) to the mound. Davies is 9-1 with a 2.92 ERA in his last 17 starts.