CINCINNATI -- The 23,489 fans in the stands and the thousands more watching on television could not hear what Brewers manager Ned Yost said in his 12th-inning mound visit Monday night. The bulging vain in his neck said it all. It was that kind of night for the Brewers, who could have won the game in the top of the 11th but instead suffered a 2-1 loss in 12 innings to the Reds at Great American Ball Park that tried everybody's patience. "I really thought we were going to pull it out there," said Chris Capuano, who saw the Brewers lose his 11th straight start despite another stellar effort by the left-hander.
Along the way the Brewers squandered eight of Capuano's best innings this season and watched Reds starter Aaron Harang pitch through the 10th, the first pitcher in a decade to work as deep into a game against Milwaukee. The Brewers were nonetheless in position to win in the top of the 11th, when they loaded the bases with no outs, then again with two outs, but came up empty both times. "You have to score a run right there," Yost said. The Reds faced the same situation in the bottom of the 12th, and they cashed in. Tied at 1 since Ryan Braun's fourth-inning home run off Harang, Grant Balfour (0-2) came out of the Brewers bullpen for his third appearance since a promotion from Triple-A Nashville last week. Working with 95 mph fastballs, Balfour walked Jeff Conine in an eight-pitch battle, then fell behind, 2-and-0, on .184-hitting Pedro Lopez. That drew a visit from a clearly fired-up Yost. "I told him, 'Look, you've worked too hard over the last couple of years and this is your game to win or lose right here,'" Yost said. "'Your stuff is really, really good. Bang some strikes and get your first [win] in two years.'" The next two pitches were out of the strike zone for a four-pitch walk. David Ross, whose third-inning homer represented the only damage against Capuano, followed with a sacrifice bunt and Balfour tried to throw out pinch-runner Norris Hopper at third. The throw was late, loading the bases for pinch-hitter Javier Valentin's walk-off single on the next pitch. Balfour had been out of the Majors since 2005 because of elbow and shoulder surgeries. He has been saddled with the loss in two of his three Brewers appearances, and his ERA grew to 20.25. "I don't know what I've been doing different," said Balfour, who had a 1.69 ERA in 24 relief appearances at Nashville. "I've been throwing strikes all year. I need to get back to it quick." Reds reliever Jared Burton (1-1) recorded the final two outs in the top of the 12th inning for his first career win. The Brewers' lead in the National League Central shrunk to three games over the idle Cubs. While Capuano turned in his second straight strong start, allowing one run in eight innings, Harang was better. He allowed seven hits including Braun's 16th home run, striking out 10 batters including Corey Hart with runners at first and second to end the top of the 10th. The Brewers were poised to take the lead in the 11th against reliever David Weathers, who faced a bases-loaded, no-out jam. But Brewers catcher Johnny Estrada hit a grounder to first baseman Conine, who initiated an easy 3-2-3 double play. Weathers then hit Geoff Jenkins in the right knee with a pitch, re-loading the bases, but Kevin Mench popped out. "Runs were definitely hard to come by," said Braun, who singled in the middle of that rally. "Give their pitchers credit because they made good pitches in big situations." Harang had been on the bereavement list since last Thursday due to the death of his grandfather. He joined Toronto's Roy Halladay (April 13 vs. Detroit) as the only pitchers to toss 10 innings this season and became the first to do it against the Brewers since Minnesota's Brad Radke on Sept. 21, 1997, at the Metrodome. "His fastball is 92 but it literally looks like 100 mph," Braun said. "He's kind of deceptive and he's a monster. He gets right on you." Said Craig Counsell, one of a number of Brewers to see long drives die at the right-field warning track: "He's a strike-thrower, and he throws quality strikes, too. He's not throwing anything down the middle of the plate. You go up there and it's 0-and-2 before you know it. If you're 10-2 on a losing team like [the Reds], you're obviously doing something pretty good." The Brewers are 9-12 since the start of the first half's final road trip and runs have been hard to come by. But Yost, asked specifically about Estrada's 5-for-38 stretch, generally refused to single anybody out. "Nobody has actually been doing anything offensively," Yost said. That was not good news for Capuano, who scattered seven hits, struck out seven and did not walk a batter for the first time in seven starts since May 23 at Los Angeles. Over his last two starts, Capuano has surrendered three runs in 15 innings. "It's about getting ahead," Capuano said. "Watching all of that video and tweaking my mechanics helped me to locate the ball a little better. ... I'll be happy to stay right there and keep doing what I'm doing." Still, Capuano remained winless since a May 7 win over Washington in which he tossed eight shutout innings. "We need to get a win when our pitcher throws that well," Braun said. "Offensively, we need to find a way to win the game."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.