Valentin’s double in eighth pushes Reds past Brewers 7-6

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MILWAUKEE (AP)—Javier Valentin had no chance to prepare for his pinch-hitting appearance. He responded with a game-winning double, helping the Cincinnati Reds to their first winning road trip in more than a year.

Valentin’s bases-loaded, two-run double in the eighth inning gave the Reds a 7-6 victory over the struggling Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday.

Cincinnati’s backup catcher did not take batting practice, ran in from the bullpen before the at-bat and did not have a chance to swing at a pitch Sunday until getting to the plate. He drive on a 3-2 pitch from Scott Linebrink (4-4) bounced over the left-center field wall for a ground-rule double, scoring Jeff Conine and Edwin Encarnacion to give the Reds their first lead in the game.

“It was difficult,” he said. “You have no chance to get loose, no chance to get ready.”

Valentin, a switch-hitter, is batting .297 against right-handers and .213 against left-handers. He expected the Brewers to bring left-hander Brian Shouse into the game, so he took his time getting in from the right-field bullpen.

“That’s what I assumed,” he said.

Instead, Milwaukee stayed with Linebrink, a right-hander, and Valentin had to get ready quickly.

“All you try to do is make contact and get one out of the infield,” he said. “I’m so happy.”

Linebrink was holding left-handers to a .214 average since joining Milwaukee in a trade from San Diego on July 25 while right-handers have a .257 average against Shouse.

“I like Linebrink right there in that situation,” Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said.

The Reds have won four-of-six, taking two-of-three at Chicago and at Milwaukee, to win their first road trip since June 19-26, 2006 when they went 4-3 at the New York Mets and Cleveland. Since then, Cincinnati was 0-11 in 13 road trips, winning 40 of 104 games.

The Reds trailed 5-0 after three innings, but Adam Dunn and Brandon Phillips homered as the Reds rallied to tie the score—only to fall behind again on J.J. Hardy’s solo home run to lead off the seventh.

“We just kept chipping back,” Cincinnati manager Pete Mackanin said. “I couldn’t have predicted the outcome, but I’m extremely happy with it.”

Reliever Bill Bray (2-0) pitched a third of an inning to earn the win, getting Prince Fielder to fly out to end the seventh on his only pitch of the game. Jared Burton struck out two in the eighth, and David Weathers got Fielder to ground out to second with two on in the ninth for his 25th save in 30 chances.

“Weathers made it interesting, but we’re all going home happy,” Mackanin said.

Fielder, Ryan Braun and Bill Hall each homered for Milwaukee, which has lost six of seven and 10 of 13.

Cincinnati starter Aaron Harang pitched 6 2-3 innings, giving up a season-high six runs and nine hits while striking out eight.

It was the 16th consecutive loss for the Brewers in games started by Chris Capuano. Yost had threatened to pull him from the rotation unless he pitched better against the Reds, and the left-hander went 6 1-3 innings, giving up five runs and nine hits with a walk and eight strikeouts.

“I’ll see,” Yost said when asked about Capuano’s status in the rotation. “I haven’t made my mind up yet. We’re 10 minutes away from a tough loss.”

The rookie Braun led off the second with his 24th home run to give Milwaukee a 1-0 lead. Geoff Jenkins followed with a single and Hall, who had 35 home runs a year ago, hit his 11th to make it 3-0.

With Gabe Gross at first, Fielder hit his NL-leading 38th home run in the third to give the Brewers a 5-0 lead.

Phillips led off the fourth with a single and Dunn followed with his 34th home run of the year to bring Cincinnati within 5-2.

The Reds tied it at 5 in the sixth. Jeff Keppinger led off with a bloop single to left and Phillips hit his 22nd home run to make it 5-4. Dunn was hit by a pitch and advanced to third on a pair of wild pitches, before Conine’s sacrifice fly to the center field warning track.

Notes

RHP Ben Sheets will throw a simulated game Monday afternoon before the Brewers’ game at Arizona. He has been on the DL since July 16 because of an injury to the middle finger on his right hand. … Yost, 53, Capuano, 29, and shortstop Hardy, 25, all had birthdays on Sunday. … The last time the Brewers won when Capuano pitched was May 7 in a 3-0 win over Washington. … Hardy also hit two home runs on Friday night.

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