CINCINNATI - In what's becoming an annual occurrence, the Milwaukee Brewers are losing games - and their composure - in early August.
Bronson Arroyo lasted six innings on a muggy evening and hit a bases-loaded double last night, sending the Cincinnati Reds to a 6-3 victory that left the Brewers with a next-to-nothing lead in the NL wild-card race.
Their patience is running out, too.
After Manny Parra (9-5) left for a pinch hitter in the seventh inning, first baseman Prince Fielder went up to him in the dugout and exchanged words. Fielder then shoved Parra twice before teammates pulled him away.
It was reminiscent of Aug. 2 last season, when manager Ned Yost got into a heated dispute with catcher Johnny Estrada in the dugout tunnel during a loss to the Mets and players intervened. That came during a run of 10 losses in 14 games, a fade that dropped them out of first place. They're at it again.
"If you want to know what happened or what transpired - blow-by-blow or what words were said - I'm sorry, you're not going to know," Yost said, his voice rising. "It's private. It's between us, and it's not a big deal. And it's not the first time it ever happened, and it won't be the last."
Since they were tied with the Cubs for first place in the NL Central July 26, the Brewers have dropped seven of nine. They got swept by the Cubs in a four-game showdown last week, and saw their lead for the wild card reduced to a half-game over idle St. Louis with their latest loss.
Fielder declined through a club spokesman to talk to the media. Parra didn't want to talk about the altercation, either.
"Stuff happens like that all the time," Parra said. "We're not too concerned about it."
Arroyo (10-8) extended his midseason surge, winning for the sixth time in his last seven starts. He also had a two-run double in the fifth inning off Parra that put the Reds ahead to stay. Jay Bruce added a two-run homer for the Reds, who won for only the second time in the last 10 games.
Parra didn't allow a hit until Jolbert Cabrera singled with one out in the fifth. The 25-year-old pitcher then came apart, walking the next two batters and leaving a 2-2 fastball down the middle for Arroyo, who doubled to left for a 2-0 lead. Joey Votto followed with a two-run single past a diving Fielder at first base.
"He pitched great until the hit, then kind of just lost it from that point on," Yost said. "I don't think he loses focus, but definitely this has been a bit of a trend at times, where he'll be lights-out and then all of a sudden just kind of hit a wall."