Arroyo, Reds lose to desperate Brewers

CINCINNATI (AP) — For the first time since they

clinched the NL Central title, the Cincinnati Reds looked like a team

with little at stake.

Brandon Phillips doesn’t want

to see that again.

Shaun Marcum got his first win

since returning from an elbow problem, and Ryan Braun hit his NL-leading

41st home run on Wednesday night, leading the Milwaukee Brewers to an

8-1 victory that helped their flickering wild-card

chances.

Cincinnati managed only six hits and

stranded nine runners, the Reds’ most disappointing game offensively

since they clinched the division on Saturday

night.

“To tell you the truth, I don’t know what it

is,” said Phillips, who was 0 for 5 and made the final out. “I don’t

know why we’re not getting hits. Maybe it’s because we made the

playoffs. But we need to wake up. We’re just not getting it done right

now. I feel like we need to step it up, especially

me.”

The Reds played all of their healthy regulars

even though they clinched on Saturday. Bench coach Chris Speier made out

the lineup and checked with manager Dusty Baker, who changed it

slightly.

Baker was hospitalized four days in Chicago

last week for treatment of an irregular heartbeat and a mini-stroke.

The 63-year-old manager visited the ballpark in the afternoon. Baker

hopes to return to managing for the final series in St. Louis next

week.

Cincinnati fell a game behind Washington for

best record in the majors and the top seed in the NL playoffs. The Reds

conclude the series against Milwaukee on Thursday, then end the regular

season with three games in Pittsburgh and three in St.

Louis.

Speier wasn’t concerned by one bad

performance.

“We’d like to start hitting on all

cylinders shortly,” Speier said. “Every team wants to be hitting and

pitching (well) going into the players. I think things will take care of

themselves tomorrow or the next day.”

The Brewers

won the division last season, but are reduced to a desperate surge

toward the last remaining playoff spot. They moved to 3 games behind St.

Louis for the final NL wild card when the Cardinals lost to Houston

2-0. The Dodgers are also 3 back.

At this point, it’s

a matter of playing well enough to extend the NL’s final race. The

Brewers have done their part, winning 26 of 34 while keeping the

Cardinals in range.

“We’re playing really good,”

manager Ron Roenicke said. “At this point where we’ve put ourselves,

unfortunately we need help from somebody. But if we continue to play

well, it gives us a chance that somebody can get hot and come in and

beat them.

“At this point, they’re all critical

games. They’re not going to lose that much.”

Marcum

(6-4) went six innings for his first victory since returning from an

elbow problem, allowing only four hits, including Joey Votto’s RBI

double.

Norichika Aoki homered to start a three-run

third inning off Bronson Arroyo (12-9) and added an RBI double. Braun,

the NL’s Most Valuable Player last season, hit a two-run shot in the

seventh off Logan Ondrusek.

Jonathan Lucroy also

homered and had three hits.

Marcum saved Milwaukee’s

slim hopes for another day by emerging from his rut. The right-hander

went on the disabled list in June with tightness in his right elbow. He

was 0-1 with a 5.16 ERA in his first six games back, but finally got

that elusive win on Wednesday.

Votto’s RBI double in

the first caromed off the wall in left field, a few feet from the top.

It was an encouraging sign for Votto, who hasn’t homered in his 18 games

back from knee surgery. The first baseman missed 48 games because of

torn cartilage and doesn’t expect the knee to be back to normal until

next season.

Votto, the NL’s Most Valuable Player in

2010, is batting .339 with 20 walks and one hit-by-pitch since his

return.

Arroyo had been in one of his good stretches,

going 5-1 in his last eight starts with a 2.60 ERA. The Brewers put

together five consecutive hits with two outs in the third for a 3-1

lead. Aoki hit his 10th homer to start the rally.

“I

felt like I had pretty good stuff, but for some reason, they were

(ignoring) balls just off the plate, and the ball seemed to be jumping

tonight,” Arroyo said.

NOTES:

Aoki’s homer broke an 0-for-14 slump. … Lightning drew oohs from the

crowd as a small storm moved just south of the ballpark in the second

inning. There was no rain and the game continued without delay. …

Braun’s homer moved him ahead of Cecil Cooper into fifth place on the

franchise homer list with 202. He hit 33 homers last season. … Reds C

Ryan Hanigan was back after missing one game with a bruised shoulder.