MILWAUKEE -- As the Cincinnati Reds try to lock down a playoff spot, Homer Bailey has been perhaps their most potent weapon of late.
Coming into his start Saturday at Milwaukee, Bailey had won a career-best five consecutive decisions while posting a 2.44 ERA in his previous eight starts.
Bailey kept that pace Saturday, holding Milwaukee to three hits and working around a season-high four walks as the Reds beat the Brewers, 7-3, at Miller Park.
"Homer was good today," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He struggled. But he got pitches when he had to."
Bailey (11-10) hasn't lost since July 26, when he allowed only two runs in seven innings against the Braves, capping off a four-game losing streak.
During his winning streak, the Reds are 8-1 when Bailey starts.
"As long as we win at the end of the day, I could care less what my record is," Bailey said. "I think we're still trying to win the division.
"We still have two big series against Pittsburgh coming up, we go into Houston pretty soon. We're still trying to get atop of that division."
His offense, paced by two-run home runs from Shin-Soo Choo and Joey Votto did its part to help, taking advantage of another erratic start by Brewers prospect Johnny Hellweg.
Fresh off his first major league victory, the young right-hander struggled with his command and allowed eight hits and a walk, hit three batters and gave up Choo's home run while recording one strikeout in five innings.
Hellweg was selected Pacific Coast League pitcher of the year after going 11-5 with a 3.16 ERA with Triple-A Nashville, but has been knocked around regularly with Milwaukee, going 1-4 with an 8.72 ERA in six appearances (five starts).
"There were some positives and some negatives," Hellweg said. "I felt like I battled pretty decent. I got in trouble early and put up some zeros to be able to get through five.
" had more out there, but I felt like I was good getting through five."
Hellweg got into trouble early Saturday, allowing a leadoff double to Choo, who moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Brandon Phillips and scored on a sacrifice fly by Votto.
Hellweg then walked Jay Bruce before giving up back-to-back base hits to Ryan Ludwck and Todd Frazier, the latter scoring Bruce to make it 2-0.
In the second, Hellweg hit Bailey with a pitch with one out and Choo followed with his 21st home run of the season to give the Reds a 4-0 lead.
"The first two innings were (a big step back), but I was glad he got through the third, fourth and fifth and I think it was important for him to do that," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "The first two innings were tough."
Milwaukee answered with three runs in the fourth, but Votto's two-run, two-out homer off Michael Blazek in the sixth made it a three-run game.
The Brewers threatened again in the eighth, loading the bases against Zach Duke and Sam LeCure.
But Aroldis Chapman came in to face pinch-hitter Jonathan Lucroy, who hit a walk-off home run against Chapman in their last meeting ,but was 0-for-5 with five strikeouts in five other meetings.
"I hate striking out with the bases loaded," said Lucroy, who was out of the starting lineup for the first time since Aug. 19. "I don't care who it is on the mound pitching, I hate striking out,"
Chapman served up four straight fastballs, striking out Lucroy on 100 mph pitch to retire the side, and worked around two one-out walks in the ninth for his 36th save of the season.
Cincinnati began the day 3 1/2 games behind the Cardinals in the NL Central, but was 4 1/2 games ahead of Washington for the second National League wild-card berth.
The Nationals hosted Philadelphia later Saturday, while the Cardinals hosted Seattle.
NOTES: Khris Davis returned to the Brewers' lineup after missing six games because of a sore left wrist, while third baseman Aramis Ramirez was held out after being hit in his left wrist by Mat Latos' pitch on Friday. ... Reds manager Dusty Baker met with his hitters before the game to discuss their approach after recording 23 strikeouts in the previous four games. Cincinnati began the day tenth in MLB with 1,144 strikeouts, while Jay Bruce entered Saturday leading the National League with 174 and Joey Votto was 10th with 130. ... Milwaukee infielder Yuniesky Betancourt's .236 on-base percentage was the lowest in baseball among players with at least 300 plate appearances. ... Reds RHP Johnny Cueto threw another bullpen session Saturday and could return to action this week.