While most of the Brewers took Thursday off to rest, Looper attended a funeral for 84-year-old LaVerne Looper of Granite, Okla., the man who bought Braden his first Wilson A2000 glove and took him to a pitching camp at Wichita State, where he eventually played college baseball.
Hart homered in the seventh after Looper left and the veteran right-hander outpitched Johnny Cueto to lead the Milwaukee Brewers to a 3-2 victory over Cincinnati on Friday night, snapping the Reds' four-game winning streak.
"Essentially, he was my father, he was the guy who got me started in baseball. That home run by Corey was a gift," Looper said. "I got that two-run lead and I was feeling pretty good. I'm glad that mistake didn't cost me the game."
The Brewers, who had hit .204 with just two homers while going 1-5 in their last six games, only had three hits, but two of them left the ballpark.
Hart's go-ahead homer came in the seventh inning came after Prince Fielder hit a two-run shot in the first.
"It's special," said Looper, who got the game ball from Trevor Hoffman after the career saves leader notched his 12th consecutive save since joining the Brewers. "It's one of the games I'll remember for a long time."
Looper (5-3) and Cueto were sharp, matching zeros and mistakes until Hart's hit.
Hart, hitting .176 in his previous 17 games, drove Cueto's slider 435 feet over the Milwaukee bullpen and just below the motorcycles that sit in left-center field.
"When you make those kind of mistakes to hitters like that, you're going to pay the consequences," Cueto said through an interpreter. "I missed my location on both of them."
That was all Milwaukee needed.
Brewers reliever Todd Coffey worked around consecutive singles to start the eighth after a nice double play by second baseman Craig Counsell and Hoffman allowed a two-out single but struck out Jay Bruce to end it.
Bruce, who went 0 for 4, said before the trip began that Cincinnati would return home with the NL Central lead after the seven-game trip to Milwaukee and St. Louis. He said afterward that he wasn't guaranteeing the Reds would come home in first, but he meant that they should have high expectations.
"I said that given what we've been doing as a team -- we've been playing well -- I think the attitude that all of us have going on this road trip is that we should expect to come back in first place," Bruce said. "To be a good team, you have to expect to be successful and I think we are a good team."
The Reds began the day 1 1/2 games back and didn't get off to a good start.
Cueto (4-3) walked Ryan Braun with two outs in the first inning before Fielder's homer gave Milwaukee the early lead, but Cincinnati tied it when Looper walked Ryan Hanigan with two outs in the fourth before Ramon Hernandez's two-run shot.
Both pitchers settled down and Cueto retired 10 straight until Braun doubled to leadoff the sixth.
Braun advanced to third on a pop out by Fielder, but was thrown out at the plate trying to score off Mike Cameron's liner to left when former Brewer Laynce Nix threw a one-hop strike to Hanigan, the catcher.
"I would've sent him, too," Brewers manager Ken Macha said. "We were scratching for runs. It took a perfect throw."
Hanigan had come into the game for Joey Votto, who left in the second inning as he struggles with an inner ear infection. Votto has left three straight games immediately after flights due to complications from the infection.
Cueto left after the seventh, scattering three hits and four walks while striking out three.
Looper didn't allow a hit after Hernandez's blast, but left after the seventh with the game still tied despite allowing just two hits and two walks. Hart put Looper in line for the win moments later, and Coffey and Hoffman sealed it.
"Any time you can do that ... with what happened, it's good for him," Hart said.
Reds 2B Brandon Phillips (thumb) was out of the starting lineup for the fifth game, but pinch hit in the ninth. ... Brewers GM Doug Melvin said he's not talking to any other team about any potential trades. The Brewers lost 2B Rickie Weeks (wrist) for the year on May 17 and Melvin has said repeatedly that the Brewers are not vying for Padres SP Jake Peavy. "I don't have any trade discussions going on with anybody," Melvin said. ... Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves threw out the first pitch.
- Home Plate Umpire - Fieldin Culbreth
- First Base Umpire - Gary Cederstrom
- Second Base Umpire - Jim Wolf
- Third Base Umpire - Brian Onora