Brewers rout Reds yet again at GABP

Published 2:25 am Tuesday, September 20, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Peyton’s Place is starting to look a lot more like a one-man act.

The Browns don’t seem to mind.

With one Peyton (Manning) out, another Peyton (Hillis) overpowered the Colts’ defense for two touchdown runs Sunday, leading the Browns to a 27-19 victory over reeling Indianapolis.

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For the Colts, it doesn’t get much worse than this. They already lost Manning for at least two months because of neck surgery and are now 0-2 for the first time since 1998, Manning’s rookie season. The four-time MVP quarterback’s absence seems to have stripped the Colts of any aura of superiority — Sunday’s loss to Cleveland was Indy’s first in the series since 1994, Manning’s freshman season at Tennessee.

Without their franchise quarterback, the Colts didn’t have much of a chance — even at home against a below-average team.

“We did some things better, but that’s not what we’re measured by around here,” Indy coach Jim Caldwell said. “We’re measured by winning.”

By that standard, the start of this season has been an abject failure. Indy could have been expected to struggle without Manning. This is more like a collapse.

Few expected things to look this bleak this fast.

“We don’t have much time left,” Reggie Wayne said. “We’ve got to figure it out fast, even though it’s just the second game. We have to figure out a way to win the close ones. I feel like that’s what it’s going to be from here on out.”

From the middle of the third quarter until Indy’s final desperation drive, the Colts didn’t pick up a first down. That stretch included four straight three-and-outs, one that ended with a third-down interception after Pro Bowl receiver Wayne fell down.

Kerry Collins, Manning’s replacement, started the game 9 of 12 but completed only 10 of his last 26, most coming after the outcome was decided. He finished 19 of 38 with 191 yards, one interception and another lost fumble. He didn’t get the Colts into the end zone until 24 seconds remained.

Fans even began leaving early, a rarity given Manning’s propensity for pulling out miracle comebacks. Some in Indy might believe a miracle is needed to turn things around without Manning.

And next week, defending AFC champion Pittsburgh comes to town for a prime-time game that could expose more flaws.

“The facts are what they are,” Collins said. “We didn’t do what we needed to do.”

Cleveland (1-1) did, and the victory ended a tough week.

It simplified the game plan by relying on Hillis, who carried 27 times for 94 yards and the game-sealing score with 3:55 left. He wore down the Colts with his strong runs and repeatedly converted in short-yardage situations to help the Browns play keepaway.

“That’s Peyton,” Browns quarterback Colt McCoy said after throwing for 211 yards and one TD. “He’s going to run and run and run. Eventually, he’s going to run over someone and go.”

Last week against Cincinnati, the Browns’ defense got caught napping on a long touchdown pass, and punt returner Josh Cribbs got knocked down when a teammate leveled a Bengals defender. Then Saturday, as the Browns got ready to depart Cleveland, the team plane got stuck in the mud.

Some thought it might be a harbinger. Hillis made sure it wasn’t against the Manningless Colts.

“Maybe we should get stuck in the mud every week,” Cribbs said, drawing the kind of laughter usually heard in Indy’s locker room.

The Browns changed the dynamic by trading touchdowns for field goals. Without Manning, Indy couldn’t keep pace.

Collins led the Colts on two long drives in their first three series before settling for field goals.

Cleveland answered midway throughout the second quarter when McCoy scrambled to his left on third-and-11 from the Colts 16 and hooked up with Evan Moore in the back corner of the end zone to make it 7-6.

Indy came right back with a 52-yard field goal, Adam Vinatieri’s longest kick since 2008. But McCoy has enough time to take the Browns down to the Colts 1. Hillis’ plunge with 15 seconds left made it 14-9.

The Colts closed to 14-12 midway through the third quarter, but Phil Dawson kicked two short field goals and Hillis’ decisive 24-yard TD run sealed it.

“I don’t know if we adjusted. We probably would have seen some different things,” with Manning on the field, coach Pat Shurmur said after his first career win. “Don’t underestimate this (Colts) team. For us to get our first victory against them is good.”

Notes: Colts right guard Ryan Diem left in the second quarter with an ankle injury and was replaced by Mike Pollak. Defensive tackle Fili Moala also left in the first half with an ankle injury. … Moore was the first Browns player to score a TD against Indy in four games, dating to William Green’s TD run in 2002. … Browns cornerback Joe Haden was called for pass interference and illegal contact on the same play during the Colts’ first series and later drew a defensive holding penalty after giving up a first-down catch. … Cleveland right tackle Tony Pashos (left ankle) missed his second straight game.

CINCINNATI (AP) — Prince Fielder and the Milwaukee Brewers haven’t been too fond of Great American Ball Park. The way they played here this weekend might help change the way they feel.

Fielder and Carlos Gomez each hit two-run homers in the first and Zack Greinke breezed through seven sharp innings, leading the Brewers to an 8-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday for a series sweep.

“It’s hard to lose when you pitch and hit,” Fielder said. “It feels better when you do it on the road. It’s not easy to do it on the road. It gives you extra confidence. We know we can win at home.”

Corey Hart added a solo shot in the sixth as Milwaukee polished off its first sweep of a three-game series at Great American, which opened in 2003. Milwaukee’s last sweep of a three-game series in Cincinnati was Aug. 30-Sept. 1, 2002. Milwaukee outscored Cincinnati 24-5 in the series while limiting the Reds to two hits in each of the last two games.

Manager Ron Roenicke might’ve been a little concerned coming into Cincinnati. Milwaukee had lost six of its last eight games going into the series, and the Brewers had lost 12 of their previous 14 games in Cincinnati.

“Guys still felt good coming in,” Roenicke said. “We’ve had trouble here. They came in determined to get back on track, and I think we did that.”

The NL Central Division-leading Brewers went into the game with a magic number of five for clinching their first division championship in 29 years. Any combination of Milwaukee wins and St. Louis losses adding up to five would give the Brewers their first title since the 1982 team won the American League East. The Cardinals were scheduled to play Sunday night at Philadelphia.

Reds batters had just 13 hits while striking out 33 times and walking six in the series, leaving manager Dusty Baker looking for answers.

“It was a frustrating weekend,” he said. “They beat us up pretty good. We helped them some, but they hit a lot of balls over the wall. They got every kind of hit and everything went their way.”

Greinke allowed just one baserunner — Edgar Renteria, who reached with one out in the fourth on Yuniesky Betancourt’s error and was caught stealing while Joey Votto was striking out ­— before Juan Francisco lined an opposite-field single to left with two outs in the fifth. Drew Stubbs walked and Francisco scored on Devin Mesoraco’s single to left.

Greinke (15-6) allowed just two hits and one run with three walks. He tied his season high with 10 strikeouts.

“I was locating stuff early,” Greinke said. “Sometimes, you can be a little inconsistent in the first inning.”

He appreciated the early support.

“I wanted them to keep it going,” he said. “Seven runs is good if you’re doing your job. If you struggle at all, they can come back and make it a game.”

Matt Maloney was pressed into service as Cincinnati’s starting pitcher after Dontrelle Willis developed back spasms. Maloney had planned to start Monday in place of Johnny Cueto, who left his last start with a strained muscle in his upper right back.

The Brewers wasted no time pouncing on the emergency starter. Hart led off the game with a double to right-center. Gomez then hit the first pitch he saw from Maloney 390 feet into the left field seats for his seventh home run of the season and first since July 1.

Ryan Braun followed with a slow roller halfway up the third base line for an infield single and Fielder hit the first pitch he saw 424 feet down the right-field line for his 34th homer.

Milwaukee knocked Maloney out of the game in the second. Hart, Gomez and Braun all singled to load the bases with one out. Fielder grounded to Votto at first, who forced Hart at the plate. Mesoraco’s high return throw glanced off Votto’s glove, allowing Gomez to score with Braun and Fielder moving up. They scored on a single to left by Rickie Weeks, Maloney’s last batter.

Maloney (0-3) gave up seven runs — six earned — on nine hits in 1 2/3 innings. His ERA climbed from 6.88 to 9.16.

“I found out an hour and a half before the game,” he said. “I don’t blame any of the outing on it. My bullpen was good. My stuff was good. I just got my butt kicked, plain and simple. They got some bleeders, sure, but they count as much as a line drive. I just have to turn the page.”

Notes: Fielder and Braun both extended hitting streaks, Fielder to 11 games (13 for 38, .342) and Braun to eight (15 for 35, 426.). … Milwaukee C Jonathan Lucroy has one hit in his last 28 at-bats. … Milwaukee outfielder Logan Schafer’s ninth-inning single was his first major league hit. … Drew Stubbs’ third inning strikeout was his Reds’ record 196th of the season, snapping his tie with Adam Dunn, who struck out 195 times in 2004. Stubbs struck out again in the seventh. … The win was the Brewers’ 38th of the season on the road, surpassing their 2010 total of 37. … LHP Chris Narveson makes his first start since Sept. 8 when the Brewers open a three-game series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Monday night. Narveson pitched two innings of relief Wednesday against Colorado and retired all six batters, two on strikeouts. … The Reds’ three-game series that starts Monday against Houston wraps up their home schedule. Willis will start if he is healthy. If not, LHP Travis Wood will start, Baker said.