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Wolf, Crew hope fortunes turn around after 5th straight win

July 27, 2010

MILWAUKEE — If the series opener against the Reds is any indication, the Brewers could make a major move this week toward getting back in the National League playoff race.

To do so, they’ll need more of what they got on Monday night: strong pitching and clutch hitting, which led to a thrilling victory, 3-2, over the Reds at Miller Park.

The winning formula has been pretty simple lately: Good pitching and big late-inning hits have delivered wins in each of the first four games of the Brewers’ current six-game homestand, and they’ve won seven in a row overall at home.

On Monday night, the stars of the show were Randy Wolf, Rickie Weeks and Jim Edmonds, the latter two playing big roles throughout a five-game winning streak.

Wolf bounced back in a big way from a rough outing in Pittsburgh to battle with Cincinnati right-hander Bronson Arroyo in what turned out to be an excellent pitchers’ duel. After giving up 12 runs on 13 hits last time out, Wolf went seven innings, giving up two runs on five hits while walking one and striking out five.

In his previous outing, Wolf kept himself in the game to help preserve the Brewers’ tired bullpen.

“It was a nightmare game,” Wolf said. “Those are the kind of games you try to put behind you. They’re the kind of games where you could go out there and tell [the hitters] what was coming, and it would be better than it was. You can’t lose sight of that.”

Wolf struggled a bit early again Monday, loading the bases with none out in the second, but he managed to escape with just two runs on the board for the Reds.

After giving up a two-run single that inning, Wolf retired 17 of the final 20 batters he faced.

“Those guys get us out of a lot of jams, and I understand that’s a tough job. … In my last game I said, ‘Put me back out there. I don’t care how many runs I give up. I can take the abuse today. I’ve already taken enough,’ ” Wolf said. “Today, I had a lot of pitches early, so I just tried to get deep enough in the game to where [the relievers] didn’t have to throw a lot of innings.”

In the third, following a Wolf single for the Brewers’ first hit, Weeks belted an 0-1 slider from Arroyo to dead center field.

The blast, which hit off the batters’ eye, was estimated at 447 feet.

“Rickie continues to be amazing,” said Brewers manager Ken Macha. “Coming into the game tonight, I think he was 2-for-20 against Arroyo. He got a ball up, I think it was a slider, and I haven’t seen too many balls hit that far here.”

Weeks’ homer allowed the Brewers to extend another streak, giving them at least one home run in 15 straight games, five shy of the franchise record set in 2008.

Arroyo did not allow another hit until the eighth, but the Brewers’ third hit proved costly for him.

After Edmonds crushed a 1-2 fastball home run distance but just foul down the right-field line, Arroyo came back with another fastball. Edmonds hit the second one even farther, and kept it fair for the eventual game-winning home run.

“The end of the game, I play a mental chess match,” Arroyo said. “That’s how I win ballgames. I threw the ball right where I wanted to. I didn’t think he could even swing at the pitch. He hits it out of the park. You tip your hat to somebody that comes off the bench and does that. They closed it out.”

While he might be thinking about retirement, the 40-year-old Edmonds has shown over the past few days that he can still play. What’s more, he can still lead his team to a win, even if he’s coming off the bench.

Having been a part of playoff races in the past with the Cardinals, the veteran center fielder offered his perspective on the significance of the Brewers’ current win streak and what they need to do if they’re going to make an improbable run at the playoffs.

“We’re a long ways from being close to first place, but in order to get close to first place, you’ve got to beat the best teams,” Edmonds said. “They’re obviously the best team in the league right now, and we’ve still got a long way to go, but it’s nice to get a win.

“It’s going to be an uphill battle. It’s a good start for us, but I don’t expect this to be something where you just go out there and win games. It’s going to be a battle, and we’ve got to really concentrate each and every day.

“We’ve got to play better in the last two months than we did in the first four.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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