Arroyo loses ‘chess match’ as Edmonds belts HR

Published 3:34 am Tuesday, July 27, 2010

MILWAUKEE — Jim Edmonds acknowledged he’s been hurting since the start of July. He’ll continue to grit it out — as he did Monday night — before deciding whether to retire.

Edmonds homered as a pinch hitter with two outs in the eighth inning after just missing a go-ahead shot on the previous pitch and the Milwaukee Brewers rallied to beat the Cincinnati Reds 3-2.

He has been unable to play the field since his right Achilles’ tendon tightened Saturday night and has been dropping hints that this year will be his final one after not playing last season. Limited to only pinch hitting, he didn’t need to run after his at-bat against Bronson Arroyo.

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“I’m trying to play through it,” Edmonds said. “Hopefully it doesn’t get any worse. … I’ll keep going out there until I can’t go out there anymore.”

Edmonds hit a big blast off a fastball from Arroyo, dropping the bat only to watch his shot sail foul. He sent the next pitch over the Reds’ bullpen in right-center field.

“I play a mental chess match, man,” Arroyo said. “That’s how I win ballgames and I got beat that time. Edmonds beat me. I didn’t think in a million years — I threw the ball right where I wanted to — I didn’t think he could even swing at the pitch and he hits it out of the park. You tip your hat to somebody who comes off the bench and does that.”

Rickie Weeks added a two-run homer in the third inning as Milwaukee won its fifth straight to match a season-best streak after trailing 2-0 early.

Reliever Carlos Villanueva (1-0) pitched the eighth and rookie closer John Axford rebounded from his first blown save of the season Friday night to notch his 15th save after allowing a one-out double to pinch-hitter Laynce Nix.

Milwaukee snapped a six-game losing streak to the Reds and kept them from moving into a virtual tie in the NL Central with St. Louis.

Cincinnati has been in first or second place in the division since early May, and Milwaukee has remained a distant third. They’re closing fast, but need to sweep the Reds to pressure the leaders.

Arroyo (10-6) finished his 11th complete game, and second in a loss, after being staked a 2-0 lead on a two-run single by Ryan Hanigan in the second.

“I was hoping to keep riding it out and maybe get a 10-inning win instead of an eight-inning loss, but that’s the way it goes,” Arroyo said.

With two outs in the third, Wolf singled and Weeks followed with a 447-foot shot to straightaway center field to tie it at 2. Weeks has six homers in his last nine games, and the Brewers have hit at least one in 15 straight.

“Rickie continues to be amazing,” Brewers manager Ken Macha said. “We haven’t seen too many balls hit that far here.”

The Reds’ right-hander had allowed just one run in his previous 16 innings against Milwaukee until Weeks’ at-bat and retired 13 straight before Edmonds’ hit.

“Two pitches were the ball game,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “You hate to lose a game like that, especially when Bronson was pitching so well.”

Milwaukee’s bullpen also picked up Wolf, who had given up 12 runs and volunteered to stay in the game to save the tired relievers in a 15-3 loss to the Pirates on Wednesday. The move has paid off; Milwaukee hasn’t lost since.

“It was gutsy of him in Pittsburgh,” Axford said. “For him to turn it around and do that, it’s unbelievable and awesome. Too bad we couldn’t get the ’W’ for Randy.”

Wolf scattered five singles over seven innings, allowing the only Reds runs off Hanigan’s hit that set the stage for Edmonds’ matchup with Arroyo.

“I was like, ’Don’t strike out and look like an idiot,”’ Edmonds said. “You’re up there trying to survive. He threw a fastball, it was up and probably out of the zone and I got to it.”

NOTES: Milwaukee has won seven straight at Miller Park. … Rolen returned to the lineup after missing nine games with a strained right hamstring. … Brewers RF Corey Hart said his right thumb is still aching after crashing into a wall Friday sliding to make a catch and jamming his wrist. Hart played catch for the first time Monday, but still isn’t able to grip a bat and was wearing a brace on the bench during the game. … Amid trade rumors, Macha joked he might give Prince Fielder a day off. That’s unlikely because Fielder has played in 286 straight games — the longest streak in franchise history.