The pressure is mounting on the slumping Milwaukee Brewers, and they’re not responding well. Again.
The Brewers look to move forward from an internal distraction Tuesday and try to win for just the third time in their last 10 games as they continue their series against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.
Milwaukee’s recent struggles continued with a 6-3 loss Monday. Manny Parra allowed only four hits, but his lack of control after four dominant innings eventually doomed the Brewers (62-51). After giving up his fifth and sixth runs of the game in the sixth inning, Parra and Prince Fielder exchanged words in the dugout, and things escalated when Fielder - approximately 70 pounds heavier than the pitcher - shoved him hard twice in the dugout before teammates separated them.
Brewers manager Ned Yost, who last year had a heated exchange with catcher Johnny Estrada during a swoon that dropped the team from the NL Central lead, stubbornly refused to divulge details of the dialogue that led to the incident.
“If you want to know what happened or what transpired—blow-by-blow or what words were said—I’m sorry, you’re not going to know,” Yost said, his voice rising. “It’s private. It’s between us, and it’s not a big deal. And it’s not the first time it ever happened, and it won’t be the last.”
Since moving into a tie for the Central lead on July 26, the Brewers’ recent slump has dropped them five games behind the Cubs and only one-half game ahead of St. Louis for the wild card. Last year, Milwaukee led the Central by as many as 8 1/2 games before being overtaken by Chicago.
Dave Bush (5-9, 4.69 ERA) also enters a pressure-filled environment trying to justify Yost’s decision in naming him the No. 5 starter over Seth McClung for the final two months. The right-hander has gone 0-1 with a 7.30 ERA in two starts since the All-Star break and was tagged for seven runs and five hits - including three home runs - in an 11-4 loss to the Cubs on Thursday.
But entering this start, Bush appears calm knowing he will be pitching every fifth day after going 15 between starts at one point.
“I couldn’t replicate the work on the sides,” he told the Brewers’ official Web site. “I was working more on mechanics and keeping my endurance up, not focusing on improving the starts. It’ll be good to do a regular session for now.”
He lost to the Reds (52-61) on April 9, giving up five runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 12-4 loss. Bush has been terrible in his career at Cincinnati, going 0-2 with a 14.24 ERA in five starts, and is 1-3 with an 8.38 ERA in eight lifetime starts versus the Reds.
Reds staff ace Edinson Volzquez (13-4, 2.71) will try to lead the team to consecutive victories for the first time since July 22-23. He ended Cincinnati’s eight-game losing streak Wednesday, when he allowed five runs—one earned—in 6 1-3 innings of a 9-5 victory at Houston.
Volzquez had allowed just one run the first six innings before two errors by shortstop Jeff Keppinger contributed to his departure in the seventh.
“I’m very happy that we’re winning again,” Volquez said. “Everybody was tired of losing every day.”
Volzquez is 6-1 with a 3.34 ERA in 11 starts at home, but that loss came in his most recent outing July 25. He won his only start against the Brewers on July 12, limiting them to two runs in seven innings of an 8-2 victory at Miller Park.