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Perez adds clutch hitting to his defensive prowess

MILWAUKEE -- While he's known for his defense, Eddie Perez also can come through in the clutch at the plate.

He certainly did Tuesday night, hitting a double and two singles and driving in two runs, lifting the Milwaukee Brewers to a 4-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

''Eddie's defense is always top-notch,'' Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said. ''But he has a knack for coming up with the big hit, too.''

After the Brewers squandered a 3-0 lead, Perez hit a tiebreaking double off Danny Graves (4-15) in the eighth, driving in Wes Helms from first on a hit-and-run.

Reliever Luis Vizcaino (4-3) pitched a perfect eighth.

Dan Kolb pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his 15th straight save, tying the club's best since entering the National League in 1998. Bob Wickman had 15 straight saves in 1999.

Milwaukee has won 13 of 15, and 3 of 4 since having its 10-game winning streak ended Friday in Chicago.

Cincinnati tied it in the seventh on a two-out, two-run homer by Wily Mo Pena off Wes Obermueller, who was bidding for his first major league victory.

Obermueller had allowed only three hits in the fourth inning until Pena connected. He struck out four and walked four over seven innings.

He said he shook off the sign for a fastball from Perez, opting instead to throw another slider that hung.

''That makes me sick. When I let that ball go, I wish I could have reached and brought it back,'' Obermueller said. ''I let it float in there and you miss like I miss -- he's a strong kid and can hit it a long way.''

Scott Podsednik led off the first inning with a single and Ginter followed with his 11th home run of the season off Paul Wilson. The Brewers added a third run on an RBI single by Perez that followed walks to Richie Sexson and Helms.

Wilson, who has given up at least one run in the opening inning of 14 of his 28 starts, intentionally walked Royce Clayton to load the bases before retiring Obermueller on his 36th pitch to end the rally.

''I just put us in an early hole,'' said Wilson, who will return to Cincinnati on Wednesday to have his sore shoulder examined. ''It's tough to do your job when you're down 3-0 in the first inning.''

The Reds got their first hit and first run in the fourth. Ryan Freel led off with a single, stole second and scored on a single by D'Angelo Jimenez. Russell Banyon singled but the rally ended when Jimenez was doubled off second on a line drive to shortstop by Tim Hummel.

Freel, who slid hard into Perez on a close play at the plate, left the game with a strained right hamstring. He'll return to Cincinnati on Wednesday for an MRI.

In five innings, Wilson allowed three runs on seven hits and four walks. He struck out five.

''He's given us quality start after quality start,'' Reds manager Dave Miley said of Wilson.

Notes: Reds 3B Brandon Larson had surgery Tuesday in Cincinnati to repair the damaged labrum, rotator cuff, capsule and biceps tendon in his left shoulder. He's expected to be ready for spring training in 2004. … The game attracted only 8,703 fans, the smallest crowd in the three-year history of Miller Park.