Fielder leads Brewers over Reds 8-1
The Brewers won for only the fifth time in 20 games, a September self-destruct that has made them a long shot for the playoffs. They moved to 1 1/2 games behind the Mets - two in the loss column - for the NL wild card, still a big gap with only one week to go.
Fielder has been Milwaukee's only consistent threat at the plate in the last two weeks, but played a starring role in their most recent meltdown. He had a fielding error that set up Cincinnati's comeback, and struck out with the bases loaded to end a 4-3 loss on Saturday.
He got the Brewers going with a solo homer in the second inning off Bronson Arroyo (15-11), who had won his last five decisions. It was Fielder's fifth homer during a 12-game hitting streak.
Fielder also had a two-run double in the fourth as the Brewers pulled away to their most lopsided victory in September.
Reliever Todd Coffey (1-0) escaped a bases-loaded threat in the fourth by getting a pair of strikeouts, then had a few look-at-me-now moments as he walked off the field. Coffey stared toward the announcing booths so intently that he went off course and had to backtrack to reach the dugout steps.
Coffey was booed by fans and harshly criticized by a Reds broadcaster when he pitched in Cincinnati.
The Brewers went 2-8 on their final road trip and headed home for six games against Pittsburgh and the Chicago Cubs, who clinched the NL Central title on Saturday. If they don't make the playoffs, they'll remember this week as the one that did them in.
Milwaukee started September with a 5 1/2-game lead in the wild-card race, then collapsed. The Brewers fired manager Ned Yost on Monday, an unprecedented move to try to relax the team and stop the self-destruction. It only got worse.
Right-hander Ben Sheets had to leave a game after two innings because of a sore elbow, leaving his status uncertain for as long as the season lasts. Interim manager Dale Sveum had to repeatedly juggle the lineup because of injuries.
The toughest blow came on Thursday, when the Brewers took a 6-2 lead into the ninth at Wrigley Field and got two outs before closer Solomon Torres let it slip away. A day later, the Reds hit seven homers off a dispirited pitching staff, leaving the Brewers in deep trouble.
Notes: The Brewers finished 41-40 on the road. ... 3B Craig Counsell snapped an 0-for-14 streak. He went 4-for-24 on the road trip. ... The Reds designated Coffey for assignment on Sept. 9, and the Brewers claimed him off waivers a day later. ... RH Seth McClung made his first start since July 21 and lasted only 3 1-3 innings. He gave up two hits, walked four and hit two Reds. ... The Reds finish their home schedule Monday with a makeup game against Florida. ... OF Jay Bruce, who was hit on the right hand by a pitch on Saturday, was out of the lineup.
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Last updated: 10:08 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012