Brewers fall to Reds in 11 innings
Durham's homer knots game in seventh; McClung takes loss
MILWAUKEE -- All of the pitching changes, pinch-hitters and pinch-runners made it feel like a Spring Training game, but it had all the import of October.And the Brewers, once again, let it slip away. "When you don't score runs," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said this week, "you look like a dead team." The Brewers certainly looked that way in a 5-4 loss to the Reds on Tuesday that spanned 11 innings, dragged on for four hours, 21 minutes and drew 43 different players into action, including 16 pitchers. Ray Durham came off the Brewers' bench and delivered a pinch-hit, three-run homer that tied the game in the seventh inning, but Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips -- swinging with a broken right index finger -- hit a go-ahead single in the 11th that cost the Brewers both a chance to extend their lead over the Phillies in the National League Wild Card race and to gain a game on the NL Central-leading Cubs. All three teams lost Tuesday. The Phillies fell short at home against the Marlins, 10-8, and the Cubs lost in St. Louis, 4-3. The Cubs retained a 4 1/2-game lead on the Brewers in the NL Central, while Milwaukee's Wild Card lead stands at three games over Philadelphia and 3 1/2 games over St. Louis. The Brewers were limited to five hits in their game and have been outscored this month, 46-24. But first baseman Prince Fielder, who went 2-for-4 with an RBI while his home run drought extended to 23 games, was surprisingly Zen-like as the clock struck midnight. "You don't like to lose, but whatever is going to happen is going to happen," Fielder said from one of the office chairs in front of each player's locker. "We have to try to win every game and see what happens. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen in the end, and there's nothing you can do about that." Fielder offered more insight. "Hopefully we can win a couple games here and there," he said. "Other than that, it is what it is. We're just losing. That's all it is. Hopefully we can turn it around. That's about it." Pardon the Brewers' fans if they are struggling to stay quite so calm during the team's 2-7 homestand, which concludes Wednesday with the Reds seeking a three-game sweep. Reliever Seth McClung (5-6), who took the loss, pointed out that the Brewers still control their postseason destiny. "It's real hard to sit here and give you the 'all is well,' speech," McClung said. "But the bottom line is we're still ahead of what I call the fourth division -- the Wild Card. Teams still have to catch us." The Brewers were shut down early Tuesday by Reds starter Ramon Ramirez, a rookie who allowed one run and only one hit in six innings. Fielder hit an RBI single in the first inning for a 1-0 Brewers lead, but with the bases loaded and one out, Ramirez struck out Mike Cameron and retired Bill Hall on a fly out and went on to dominate a Brewers lineup that averaged 2.5 runs per game in the first eight games of a 10-game homstand. Ramirez was already at 57 pitches after two innings, and faced three-ball counts on eight of the first 13 hitters he faced. He needed only 53 pitches for his final four innings of work. "We need to find ways to get hot and produce some runs," Yost said. Is his team getting down? "They sure don't like losing," Yost said. "They're not in there dancing and jumping up and down and having a party. But they're pretty good about maintaining their sense of balance." Jeff Suppan started for Milwaukee and took a shutout into the fifth inning, when Corey Patterson tied the game with a sacrifice fly. Suppan lost the lead in the sixth, when Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run homer and Jay Bruce followed with a solo shot for a 4-1 Reds lead. Patterson sparked the winning rally in the 11th against McClung with a one-out double. Patterson advanced to third on a groundout before Yost opted to intentionally walk left-handed hitter Joey Votto to face the right-handed Phillips, who squared to bunt a 94-mph fastball and fractured the index finger on his right hand. Two pitches later, Phillips lined a go-ahead single to right field. It made a winner of Reds reliever Jon Adkins (1-0). Francisco Cordero worked the bottom of the 11th inning for his 29th save. "I've been working so hard to get an inning like that," said a disappointed McClung, the Brewers' long reliever who had pitched just three times in the Brewers' previous 15 games. "We're really battling and fighting, and we have to find something to go our way." The Brewers did have their chances. Ryan Braun, who finished 0-for-5, struck out with a runner at second base after Durham's home run in the seventh. Cameron and Hall were both called out on strikes with a runner at second base in the eighth, and neither hitter liked the call from home-plate umpire Rob Drake. Cameron had another opportunity with two on and two outs in the 10th inning, but he hit a long flyout to center field.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.