CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 25: Jay Bruce #32 of the Cincinnati Reds singles in the second inning against the Milwaukee Brewers during the game at Great American Ball Park on September 25, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe …
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CINCINNATI (AP) -- Johnny Cueto pitched seven solid innings, and the Cincinnati Reds stayed in the chase for the NL's top record by beating the Milwaukee Brewers 4-2 on Tuesday night after learning they'll be without their manager for the rest of the week.
The Brewers dropped back-to-back games for the first time in more than a month, and it came at a bad time. They started the day 3 1/2 games behind St. Louis for the final NL wild card spot. The 2011 NL Central champions had played their way back into contention for the postseason by winning 25 of 32.
They got no break from the Reds, who clinched the division title on Saturday night and rested four of their regulars the following day. Interim manager Chris Speier went back to his usual lineup on Tuesday.
Manager Dusty Baker met his players before the game and revealed he suffered a mini-stroke in addition to being treated for an irregular heartbeat at a Chicago hospital last week. Speier will manage the series against Milwaukee and three games in Pittsburgh during the weekend, giving the 63-year-old Baker time to rest.
Doctors expect Baker to make a full recovery. He could resume managing the final series in St. Louis next week.
The Brewers couldn't do much against Cueto (19-9), who is rounding back into form as the playoffs approach.
Cueto got his 17th win in August, then dropped three straight subpar starts. He gave up 14 runs in only 15 1-3 innings during those three games, raising questions about whether the right-hander was tiring out. He was back in form last Thursday, pitching six shutout innings in Chicago for his 18th win.
On Tuesday, the right-hander didn't allow a runner to second base until Carlos Gomez doubled with two outs in the fifth inning. Jean Segura singled to score Gomez, but was thrown out trying to advance to third on the throw to the plate.
Cueto gave up two runs and five hits, including Aramis Ramirez's solo homer. Aroldis Chapman pitched a perfect ninth for his 36th save in 41 chances. It was his first time in the closer role since Sept. 10, when he developed a tired shoulder.
The Reds have 93 wins for only the second time since 1975-76, when the Big Red Machine put together back-to-back World Series titles. The 1999 team won 96 games but failed to make the postseason after losing a one-game playoff to the Mets.
Mike Fiers (9-9) gave up nine hits and four runs in 4 1-3 innings. The Reds put together four straights hits to open the second, loading the bases in three singles. Dioner Navarro singled for a 2-0 lead.
Zack Cozart opened the fifth with a triple that caromed off the wall in center, and Joey Votto and Jay Bruce doubled for a 4-1 lead.
NOTES: Cueto picked Rickie Weeks off first base in the first inning, his team-high ninth pickoff of the season. ... After two more games in Cincinnati, the Brewers finish the season with six home games -- three each against Houston and San Diego. ... The Brewers hadn't dropped back-to-back games since Aug. 18-19, when they lost two against Philadelphia. ... Ramirez's homer was his 338th as a third baseman, moving ahead of Ron Santo for sixth on the all-time list.
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