CINCINNATI (AP) _ The Cincinnati Reds optioned third baseman Aaron Boone to Triple-A Indianapolis following their 8-7 loss to Milwaukee on Wednesday night and called up left-handed reliever Ron Villone.

Boone was hitting only .218, but had a six-game hitting streak when demoted. He's been replaced at third by Mark Lewis, who has gone 3-for-15 in the last eight games.

The Reds decided to call up Villone, who was 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA in 18 relief appearances for Indianapolis, to add an 11th pitcher and give manager Jack McKeon a third left-hander in the bullpen.

The Reds could have lost Villone if they didn't call him up by Saturday. A clause in his contract allowed him to choose free agency if he wasn't promoted by that date.

Although the Reds are overloaded on outfielders, most of them don't have options left. That left Boone susceptible to demotion.

``Hopefully, he'll go down and pick himself up again,'' McKeon said. ``He'll go down and play every day. Maybe that's what he needs.''

Asked if he thinks he's struggling at the plate, Boone said, ``I don't know. I haven't played in a few days. I feel like I'm on the verge. I'm not locked in, but I feel like I'm close. I'm just going to go out and try to get in a groove and hope I'll be back real soon.''