CINCINNATI — This Reds celebration was unexpected.
One out away from a nondescript loss, the NL Central champions pulled out a 2-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday that sparked their first on-field celebration since clinching the title five days earlier.
Slumping Todd Frazier tied the game with a two-out homer in the ninth inning, and Dioner Navarro followed with an RBI triple that dealt a major setback to the Brewers' playoff chances.
The Reds had struggled on offense the last two games despite playing most of their regulars. The two-out rally provided a nice moment for a team focused on the big picture.
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"Runs are not our worry," Frazier said. "Our worry is figuring out who we'll play in the playoffs."
The Brewers slipped four games behind idle St. Louis for the final NL wild card with six games left.
All they needed was one more out from closer John Axford (5-8), who had converted his last 15 save chances. Frazier connected on the first pitch for his first homer since Aug. 21, tying it at 1. Jay Bruce singled and came around on Navarro's triple to deep right-center field.
Until the ninth, the Reds played a like a team that had clinched, managing only three singles and fanning a dozen times.
Bench coach Chris Speier isn't worried about the Reds' recent struggle to get hits as they head off for three games in Pittsburgh followed by three in St. Louis.
"If we were in St. Louis right now, we might be wondering, 'Is this it?'" he said, "... but good pitching will do that."
Reds Manager Dusty Baker missed his eighth game while recovering from an irregular heartbeat and a mini-stroke. He was at the ballpark before the game. Doctors think he could return on Monday in St. Louis.
Mat Latos, who pitched eight shutout innings during a 6-0 win on Saturday that clinched the division title, allowed only three this time over seven innings, including Carlos Gomez's 17th homer leading off the third inning.
Jonathan Broxton (3-1) escaped a two-on threat in the ninth to keep it 1-0.
■ The Reds went 50-31 at Great American Ball Park, the most wins there in a season. They drew 2,347,251 fans, the second-highest attendance in the ballpark's 10 seasons.