CINCINNATI (AP)—In what’s becoming an annual occurrence, the Milwaukee Brewers are losing games—and their composure—in early August.
Bronson Arroyo lasted six innings on a muggy night and hit a bases-loaded double on Monday night, sending the Cincinnati Reds to a 6-3 victory that left the Brewers with a next-to-nothing lead in the NL wild card race.
Their patience is running out, too.
After Manny Parra (9-5) left for a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning, first baseman Prince Fielder went up to him in the dugout and exchanged words. Fielder then shoved Parra twice before teammates pulled him away.
It was reminiscent of Aug. 2 last season, when manager Ned Yost got into a heated dispute with catcher Johnny Estrada in the dugout tunnel during a loss to the Mets and players intervened. That came during a run of 10 losses in 14 games, a fade that dropped them out of first place.
They’re at it again.
“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.”
There’s good reason for rising frustration.
Since they were tied with the Cubs for first place in the NL Central on July 26, the Brewers have dropped seven of nine. They got swept by the Cubs in a four-game showdown last week, and saw their lead for the wild card reduced to a half-game over idle St. Louis with their latest loss.
They’ve entered a stretch that represents a good chance for a turnaround. They play 10 consecutive games against last-place teams: Cincinnati, Washington and San Diego.
It didn’t go well in game No. 1, either on the field or in the dugout.
“You never want this stuff to happen, but who cares?” infielder Craig Counsell said. “We lost tonight, that’s the worst thing that happened. The other stuff’s forgotten. It’s not surprising when we’re all competing, we’re all trying real hard and we get frustrated. It’s going to happen. Everybody gets to see it—oh, well.”
Fielder declined through a club spokesman to talk to the media. Parra didn’t want to talk about the altercation, either.
“Stuff happens like that all the time,” Parra said. “We’re not too concerned about it.”
The right-handed Arroyo (10-8) extended his midseason surge, winning for the sixth time in his last seven starts. He also had a two-run double in the fifth inning off Parra that put the Reds ahead to stay. Jay Bruce added a two-run homer for the Reds, who won for only the second time in the last 10 games.
The stands were dotted with fans wearing Ken Griffey Jr. jerseys for the Reds’ first home game without him. The Reds traded Griffey to the White Sox last Thursday during a road trip.
The countdown board in center field that listed Griffey’s career homers was still there, but in place of a 600-series number was a “Good Luck Junior!” wish. His locker at the end of the clubhouse was empty except for plastic coat hangars. Two photos of himself and his father, former Reds outfielder Ken Sr., were still affixed to the walls on either side of the lockers.
“That’s our first win since Junior was traded,” manager Dusty Baker said. “When you lose a guy who’s been here a while, it’s always a shock. Maybe we’ll start rolling now.”
The left-handed Parra didn’t allow a hit until Jolbert Cabrera singled with one out in the fifth. The 25-year-old pitcher then came apart, walking the next two batters and leaving a 2-2 fastball down the middle for Arroyo, who doubled to left for a 2-0 lead. Joey Votto followed with a two-run single past a diving Fielder at first base.
“He pitched great until the hit, then kind of just lost it from that point on,” Yost said. “I don’t think he loses focus, but definitely this has been a bit of a trend at times, where he’ll be lights-out and then all of a sudden just kind of hit a wall.”
Mike Cameron and Ryan Braun hit solo homers off Cincinnati’s bullpen. Francisco Cordero gave up a walk and a hit in the ninth before closing it out for his 22nd save in 28 chances, leaving the Brewers to do some damage control in the clubhouse.
“When I was a kid growing up, the Oakland A’s would fight each other every single day—that’s why they called them the fighting A’s—and they won the world championship,” Yost said. “It’s not a major deal. It’s what happens. It makes teams better.”
Counsell started in place of 3B Bill Hall, who is 2-for-16 career against Arroyo with 11 strikeouts. Counsell has started the last three games, at shortstop or third base. … SS J.J. Hardy went 0-for-5 and failed to get a ball out of the infield, extending his slump to 0-for-26. … Reds 3B Edwin Encarnacion batted third—Griffey’s old spot in the order—for the first time since Oct. 1, 2006, and the 10th time in his career. He was 0-for-4.