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Brewers play into Cincinnati’s hands

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Associated Press
September 22, 2010
— The Milwaukee Brewers were formally eliminated from postseason contention on Sunday, and now they won’t post a winning record for the second straight season after winning the 2008 NL wild card.

Still, they’ve played a big part in the NL Central race: Milwaukee is 1-9 against first-place Cincinnati this season and 8-7 against the second-place St. Louis.


“It’s been miserable,” Brewer outfielder Ryan Braun said. “They dominated us.”


Cincinnati’s domination continued Tuesday. The Reds held on for a 4-3 victory at Miller Park.


Reds starter Edinson Volquez decided he needed a translator in the clubhouse, grinning through a series of one-word answers.


He’s healthy after Tommy John surgery and his easy demeanor should suit him well for a Cincinnati Reds’ club that’s about to learn about postseason pressure for first time in 15 years.


Volquez continued to make his case that he should be a big part of the postseason rotation by allowing one run over eight innings.


“I don’t know when they’re going to decide the rotation, but I hope I’ll be there,” he said after dismissing his translator and speaking in English.


Jim Edmonds homered before hurting himself rounding the bases and the Reds didn’t make it easy in the ninth.


Closer Francisco Cordero converted his 38th save, but two runs scored with two outs on a pair of errors when right fielder Jay Bruce made a wild throw that also went through Cordero’s legs.


“Hey man, if you’ve been following this team, nothing’s achieved easily,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “It got a little hairy at the end there. We kind of panicked, threw the ball to no man’s land.”


The Reds moved eight games ahead of St. Louis, which lost 5-2 to Pittsburgh, and now just need any combination of four wins or four losses by the Cardinals to clinch the NL Central.


Volquez (4-3) faced the minimum number of batters through the first five innings before losing his command a little by walking four in his final three frames.


“His fastball was consistently 95, 96 today. I feel like he used to pitch more 91 to 93, but today he was throwing hard, his changeup was just as good as ever,” Brewers slugger Ryan Braun said. “I think all their starting pitchers are gearing up for the postseason and it shows.”


Cincinnati, looking for its first playoff berth since 1995, could finish the task this weekend in San Diego to conclude a nine-game road trip. That would give the Reds the final week of the regular season at home to set their postseason rotation.


Volquez is certainly pitching as if he wants to be a big part of Cincinnati’s plans.


The 27-year-old right-hander posted his third consecutive quality start and has a 1.64 ERA over the span in his bid to pitch after Bronson Arroyo (16-10) and Johnny Cueto (12-5) in the postseason rotation.


“The more he pitches, the more he fits,” Baker said.


Volquez benefited from four double plays and struck out six.


Edmonds gave Cincinnati a 1-0 lead with his solo homer off Brewers starter Dave Bush (7-13) even if he could barely make it back around the bases.


Edmonds, who has made nine trips to the disabled list in his 17-year career, took a few awkward steps between second and third and limped badly into the dugout after his 393rd career home run.


“Something popped when I was running around the bases,” said Edmonds, who has had a lingering Achilles’ tendon injury most of the season that started when he was with the Brewers. “It felt like it tore.”


Braun, his close friend on the other side, had another thought.


“I think he was just waiting for an opportunity to hit a home run and call it a career,” Braun said. “He’ll be back for the postseason, I think.”


Twins clinch division


Trevor Cahill pitched eight solid innings for his team-leading 17th win and the Oakland Athletics beat Chicago 7-2 on Tuesday night, sending the White Sox to their eighth consecutive loss and handing the AL Central title to the Minnesota Twins.


Kurt Suzuki and Cliff Pennington drove in two runs apiece for the A’s, who pounded out 13 hits against Mark Buehrle and one reliever.


Omar Vizquel had two hits for the White Sox, who have lost 12 of 14 overall. Minnesota rallied to beat Cleveland 6-4 and became the first team to clinch a postseason spot.


when it secured the division with Chicago’s loss.


One day after Gio Gonzalez and three relievers combined on a four-hit shutout, Cahill (17-7) dominated the White Sox through eight innings by himself.


Chris Heisey’s single made it 2-0 and the Reds doubled it in the third after a mistake by Prince Fielder eventually led to two more runs.


With two on and two out in the ninth, Casey McGehee singled to right field, but Bruce’s wild throw and Cordero’s error scored Rickie Weeks and Braun and left McGehee on third before Gomez’s strikeout.


“I saw everybody keep running around the bases and I was like, ‘Oh no, that’s enough.”’ Baker said. “I told Coco, ’Hey, we’ve got this, no problem.’ ... He threw some quality pitches to Gomez.”


Notes: Reds manager Dusty Baker improved to 1,400-1,279 in 17 seasons as a manager after previous stops with the Giants (1993-2002) and Cubs (2003-06). “You always like excellence, you always like records,” Baker said. ... Reds 1B Joey Votto (sinus infection) was a late scratch.



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