MILWAUKEE (AP)—The Milwaukee Brewers certainly aren’t panicking.
They aren’t really pitching or hitting, either. And even this early in the season, a team that expects to be a contender was showing signs of concern after Tuesday’s 6-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.
“I don’t think anybody wants to start the way we have,” Brewers manager Ken Macha said. “If you take a look at the league statistics, we’re not swinging the bats very well, we’re not pitching very well and we’re not catching the ball.”
Reds starter Bronson Arroyo (2-0) helped extend those early season woes, holding the Brewers to four hits in six-plus innings.
Arroyo was bothered by a flare-up of carpal tunnel syndrome during spring training and didn’t look particularly sharp in winning his first outing last week. But on Tuesday he gave up his only run on a solo homer by Milwaukee’s J.J. Hardy in the second inning, and said his arm and hand felt good afterward.
“I’m just happy to be 2-0, even though I’m not all the way back yet,” Arroyo said.
Jerry Hairston Jr. hit a two-run homer for the Reds, who took the first two games of their series with the Brewers and will go for the sweep Wednesday.
“It’s big for us to win here, the way we’ve struggled everywhere in recent years,” Arroyo said.
Hardy’s second homer in two nights was about the only highlight for the Brewers, who have lost four straight and six of their first eight to start the season.
“We’re a good baseball team,” outfielder Mike Cameron said. “We just haven’t shown it.”
After holding Milwaukee to a run and three hits through the first six innings, Arroyo got into trouble in the seventh.
“Bronson said his arm was fine,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “He was just spent.”
Reliever Daniel Herrera came in with one out and runners on first and second, then ran the count to 3-2 on pinch-hitter Rickie Weeks before inducing a double-play grounder to end the inning.
Milwaukee got a decent performance from starter Manny Parra (0-2), who gave up three hits and three runs in six innings. But walks again were a problem for a member of Milwaukee’s starting staff, as the first two of Parra’s four walks came around to score.
At least Parra made it through the sixth inning, something that hasn’t happened very often for Brewers starters this season. Coming into Tuesday, only two Milwaukee starters had lasted more than five innings.
“Eight games into it, we’re not getting the job done,” Parra said.
The Reds took a 1-0 lead in the first when Hairston reached base on a walk and Joey Votto pounded a 3-2 pitch to the wall in right-center for a double. Hardy tied the game in the second, homering on a 1-1 pitch from Arroyo.
Cincinnati took the lead in the third when Parra walked Willy Taveras and Hairston hit his first home run of the season.
The Brewers then blew a good scoring chance in the third, as Prince Fielder came up with the bases loaded and two outs and hit a lazy fly to left field to end the inning.
Milwaukee reliever Carlos Villanueva had another rough outing, giving up three runs in the ninth. Villanueva has been serving as the Brewers’ closer while Trevor Hoffman works his way back from an injury, but others—perhaps Todd Coffey or Mark DiFelice—might be given a chance to close.
“We’ll see how he’s feeling tomorrow,” Macha said.
Macha already made one change before Tuesday’s game, moving struggling starter Jeff Suppan back a day in the rotation to give him an extra day to work out his problems. Yovani Gallardo will start Saturday’s game at the New York Mets, and Suppan will start Sunday.
If the pitching can come around, Macha remains confident that his team will start hitting.
“I’m hoping it’s just a little dip, and we can pull ourselves out of it,” Macha said. ^Notes: Reds RHP David Weathers became the 20th player in major league history to pitch in at least 900 games. … 3B Edwin Encarnacion made a throwing error in the third. … Taveras stole a pair of bases for Cincinnati. … Brewers third baseman Bill Hall took a groundball off his face in the ninth but remained in the game.