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Brewers’ win officially eliminates Reds

CINCINNATI (AP) — Bronson Arroyo’s problems started when he came down with mononucleosis during spring training. Things never got much better for him or the Cincinnati Reds the rest of the way.

Arroyo gave up four more homers on Friday night, setting a franchise record, and the Milwaukee Brewers hit five in all during a 6-3 victory that eliminated the defending NL Central champions from playoff contention.

“It is what it is,” manager Dusty Baker said. “You’ve still got to play. You’ve got to play to win. It’s disheartening to see those balls go over the fence.”

While the Reds got left behind, the Brewers started their final push toward their first NL Central title.

Ryan Braun homered twice and became the second player in Brewers history to get 30 homers and steals in a season. Braun hit one of Milwaukee’s four homers off Arroyo (8-12), then added his 30th off reliever Jeremy Horst. Braun, who also has 31 steals, joined Tommy Harper as the franchise’s only 30-30 players.

The Brewers led by 10 1/2 games on Sept. 5, but have dropped six of their last nine.

Prince Fielder, Mark Kotsay and George Kottaras also homered off Arroyo, who has given up a club-record 44. Milwaukee had seven hits, five of them homers.

Arroyo never fully recovered from the mononucleosis that wiped out most of his spring training and bothered him well into the season. The right-hander has given up 44 walks and 44 homers.

“It could be age,” the 34-year-old pitcher said. “It could be my arm. It could be getting sick in spring training. It could be a bunch of things. All I know is, during the offseason, you’ve got to contemplate making some adjustments. Obviously, you have to do something to try not to duplicate this season.”

Arroyo is only six homers shy of matching the major league record, but wouldn’t want to skip a start to avoid it.

“You don’t want to cower like that,” Arroyo said. “At the end of the day, the only way you lose is if you lose heart. You leave your guts on the field. You have to go out and not try to give up four or five home runs. This has been a big bump in the road. The only thing you can do is make as many adjustments as you can, and if they don’t work, then one day they’re going to tell you that you can’t wear a uniform anymore.”

The loss eliminated the Reds from the wild card race. The Reds opened the season by sweeping three games from Milwaukee at Great American Ball Park and won their first five overall, but couldn’t find the consistency that led them to the title last year. They were in second place or worse after May 18.

Left-hander Randy Wolf (13-9) gave up three runs and seven hits while pitching into the eighth inning. Joey Votto had three singles and drove in all the Reds’ runs. John Axford pitched the ninth for his 43rd save in 45 chances. He has converted 40 in a row, a club record.

Fielder’s 33rd homer extended his hitting streak to nine games. The first baseman caused a mild stir earlier in the week by telling TBS that this was “probably” his last season with the Brewers, and he wanted to go out “with a blast.”

Kotsay hit a two-run shot in the third inning, only his third of the season. Braun followed with his 29th on the next pitch, the third time that Arroyo has given up back-to-back homers this season. Kottaras’ solo shot in the seventh marked the second time that Arroyo gave up four homers in a game this season.

Notes: Harper had 31 homers and 38 steals in 1970. … Bert Blyleven gave up a major-league record 50 homers for Minnesota in 1986. Jose Lima set the NL record by allowing 48 in 2000 with Houston. … Reds C Ryan Hanigan was unavailable because of back spasms. … RH Yovani Gallardo will make his third start of the season against Cincinnati on Saturday. He is 0-0 with a 6.55 ERA so far. The right-hander is 2-3 in 10 career starts against the Reds. … Cincinnati’s Edinson Volquez makes his second start since he was recalled from Triple-A. The right-hander lasted only five innings Sunday in Colorado and took a loss.