Votto, Bruce lead Reds' home run barrage; Brewers lose 14th September game

CINCINNATI -- A lot of big, bad numbers are slowly crushing the Milwaukee Brewers.

Their mind-boggling September slide kept going Friday night, and time is starting to run out. The Cincinnati Reds piled up seven homers -- two apiece by Joey Votto and Jay Bruce -- in an 11-2 victory that made the Brewers a little more desperate.

The odds against Milwaukee reaching the playoffs get bigger each day.

"We're just not playing the same ball we played early," said Manny Parra, who gave up four of Cincinnati's seven homers. "It's as simple as that."

The Brewers opened September with one of the best records in the majors, hopes of catching the Cubs in the NL Central, and a comforting 5½-game lead in the wild-card race. For the second season in a row, they're collapsing at the end.

Milwaukee's 14th loss in 18 September games left the Cubs one victory -- or one Milwaukee loss -- from clinching their second straight division title. Worse, the Brewers are two games behind Philadelphia in the wild-card race with only eight to play.

"You're running out of ballgames," interim manager Dale Sveum said. "It's going to come to that point. Hopefully you don't have to win every single game, but it might get to that point here pretty quick."

Only six pitches into the game, the Brewers were out of it.

With Ben Sheets watching from the dugout railing, resting a sore pitching elbow that has thrown his season into doubt and the rotation into disarray, the rest of the Brewers' staff gave a horrible performance. Milwaukee hadn't given up more than five homers in any game this season. The Reds topped that mark and kept going.

Jeff Suppan (10-10) has epitomized Milwaukee's fade. The right-hander went 5-0 in August, but has yet to win a game in September, going 0-3 while allowing 19 earned runs in 16 1/3 innings. He lasted only two innings on Friday night.

"It doesn't matter when it is, you don't want to put your team in a hole in the first inning, and that's what I did tonight," Suppan said.

Votto hit Suppan's sixth pitch of the game for a three-run homer, his 20th. Two batters later, Bruce hit his 20th homer for a 5-0 lead, giving Cincinnati the only pair of 20-homer rookies in the majors.

The Reds have already clinched their eighth straight losing season, but are getting a kick out of making somebody else miserable.

"Big time," Votto said. "You always want to disrupt things. It's always nice to mess up the wild card and the Central Division."

Parra relieved and gave up four more homers -- solo shots by Votto, Jolbert Cabrera and Andy Phillips along with a two-run homer by Jerry Hairston Jr. Bruce completed the outburst with a solo shot off Tim Dillard.

Right-hander Ramon Ramirez (1-0) went six innings for his first victory in the majors. The 26-year-old rookie has faced the Brewers twice this month and allowed only three runs in 12 innings.

It's been a numbing week for the Brewers, who fired manager Ned Yost on Monday and have gone 1-3 under Sveum. With a chance to stop their slide at Wrigley Field on Thursday night, the Brewers took a 6-2 lead into the ninth and watched closer Solomon Torres give it up with two outs, setting up a crushing 7-6 loss in 12 innings.

A day later, they were done early, left to pick over the details of another lost game.

"Sometimes there are no answers," Sveum said.

Game notes
Brewers RHP Yovani Gallardo threw 75 pitches in a simulated game on Friday. Gallardo tore a ligament in his right knee on May 2 and has been on the DL since. ... 2B Ray Durham strained his right hamstring and left in the fourth inning. He singled, extending his hitting streak to six games, but was caught stealing. ... Bruce has seven homers in September. The rookie is 4-for-7 career off Suppan with three homers. ... It was the fourth time that Votto and Bruce homered in the same game. ... The seven homers matched Cincinnati's season high.