The Milwaukee Brewers took some pressure off themselves by ending their five-game losing streak.
Milwaukee (63-60) remained one-half game behind the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central with Saturday’s 8-3 victory. Gabe Gross and Geoff Jenkins each hit three-run homers for the Brewers, who won for just the sixth time in 20 games and moved 3 1/2 games ahead of third-place St. Louis.
For Gross, the homer came one pitch after tipping a pitch Reds catcher Javier Valentin failed to hang onto for a third strike.
“When I fouled it off, I heard it hit his glove and I looked back and he was reaching for another ball,” Gross said. “I thought he caught it.”
Gross, used primarily as a pinch-hitter this season, has gone 6-for-10 in starting the last three games since being recalled from Triple-A Nashville and is 4-for-6 with two homers in this series. There is a very good chance manager Ned Yost will have him in the lineup again for this game since he is 3-for-3 against scheduled Reds starter Aaron Harang (12-3, 3.50 ERA).
While Gross got a second chance, this may be the last chance for Capuano (5-10, 5.23) to stay in the Brewers rotation. The right-hander went 5-0 in his first seven starts, but has gone 0-10 with a 6.67 ERA in his last 15 since a win May 7.
Capuano’s struggles, though, have become more glaring in August, going 0-3 with an 8.80 ERA in as many appearances. He was roughed up for seven runs and eight hits in 4 1-3 innings Tuesday in a 12-4 loss after being staked to a 3-0 first-inning lead.
“I haven’t spoken to anybody about it so I’m not sure,” Capuano said about being taken out of the rotation after his latest defeat. “I haven’t thought about it too much. It’s not for us to worry about. It’s for them to discuss and then decide.”
The right-hander’s 10 straight losses are one shy of the team record established by Chris Bosio from May 21-Aug. 26, 1988, and equaled by Glendon Rusch from April 13-Sept. 26, 2003.
The Reds (53-69), though, may be the team Capuano may be able to end his struggles against. He is 1-0 with a 0.66 ERA in two starts this season - both at Cincinnati - limiting them to one run in 13 2-3 innings. In his first five starts versus them, however, Capuano was 1-3 with a 6.30 ERA.
Harang has won consecutive starts and seven of his last eight decisions since winning on May 30. The right-hander labored to a victory Tuesday after giving up five runs and four hits - including three home runs - in seven innings of a 6-5 victory at Chicago.
“Anytime you come here or St. Louis, any team that’s in first place or right on the bubble, you always kind of get up for that a little bit more,” Harang said.
He pitched well against Capuano on July 23, limiting the Brewers to one run and striking out 10 in a career-high 10 innings in Cincinnati’s 2-1, 12-inning victory. Harang is 4-3 with a 4.46 ERA in 12 lifetime starts versus Milwaukee, including a 3-1 mark in five outings at Miller Park.
The Brewers’ Bill Hall is 14-for-33 (.424) with two homers and seven RBIs lifetime against Harang.