Weeks has 4 hits as Brewers take Cincinnati series
Struggling leadoff hitter Rickie Weeks matched his career high with four hits Wednesday, and the slumping bottom of the Milwaukee Brewers’ batting order chipped in, too, setting up a 6-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds that set a lot of things right.
The Brewers took two of three in a series that started with a pair of ugly shoves and concluded with a pair of uplifting wins that showed resiliency.
“We’ve got guys that don’t care about situations that happen on or off the field,” Weeks said.
The defining moment of the series happened in the dugout. First baseman Prince Fielder twice shoved pitcher Manny Parra during a 6-3 loss Monday night, when the Brewers had their National League wild-card lead trimmed to a mere half-game over St. Louis. Fielder apologized a day later, and the Brewers were on their best behavior the rest of the way.
They even managed to get some clutch hits, the thing they’ve missed the most during their recent slide of seven losses in 11 games.
“The doom and gloom that was in here two days ago, and we end up with a 4-2 road trip and again, we’re doing fine,” manager Ned Yost said.
Jeff Suppan (7-7) handled the Reds’ free-swinging lineup for the third time this season, allowing an RBI groundout and a two-run homer by Jay Bruce. Suppan has given up only six earned runs in those three starts against Cincinnati.
Eric Gagne struck out Edwin Encarnacion with two runners aboard to end the eighth. Salomon Torres pitched the ninth for his 22nd save in 26 chances.
The way the Brewers handled themselves in the two wins made those two shoves seem insignificant.
“When you get a team that’s a little more experienced, you’re able to understand the situations, confront them and move on,” Suppan said. “You can see that maturity with our team. That’s starting to show.”
Weeks drove in a pair of runs with his second single off Homer Bailey (0-6), who failed to last six innings for the third straight start. In those three games, the 22-year-old rookie has allowed 30 hits and 16 runs in 12 1-3 innings
Bailey’s fastball had slipped under 90 mph earlier this season, but was back up around 93 consistently and occasionally hit 96 on Wednesday.
“He pitched better,” manager Dusty Baker said. “He had his best velocity since I’ve been here. He walked those (two) guys in the third inning and they scored, but he did throw the ball better.”
Weeks had been in a 5-for-29 slump that dropped his average to .223, lowest in the starting lineup aside from Suppan. He singled in each of his first three at-bats, keeping constant pressure on Bailey. Weeks’ four singles overall marked the second time in his career that he had a four-hit game.
“Ricky had great at-bats, sparked our offense big time,” Yost said. “I was real proud of Rickie. Rickie got hot this time of year last year, too. Even though there’s a lot of people that get on him because they really don’t look beyond the day-to-day happenings, Rickie’s been swinging the bat very well since the All-Star break.”
Slumping center fielder Mike Cameron had three hits, scored twice and drove in a run while batting seventh. Catcher Jason Kendall, who followed him in the order, broke the game open when he came to bat with the bases loaded in the sixth inning. Kendall hit a comebacker that deflected off Bailey’s glove and rolled past second baseman Brandon Phillips into right field for a two-run single.
“It nicked the side of the glove,” Bailey said. “It was just out of my reach. If I had to do it over again, I’d watch it and let Brandon field it.”
The Brewers need to play well to take advantage of a fortuitous stretch of their schedule. They’re three games into a streak of 10 straight against some of the NL’s worst teams—Cincinnati, Washington and San Diego.
Milwaukee was tied with the Cubs for first place in the NL Central on July 26, but got swept by Chicago at home in a four-game showdown last week. When the Brewers lost their opener in Cincinnati, the frustration boiled over in the dugout.