CINCINNATI -- Finally 90!
Jay Bruce hit two more homers, the second one upheld upon review, and the Cincinnati Reds reached 90 wins for the first time since 1999, beating the Milwaukee Brewers 7-4 on Saturday while resting players to get ready for the playoffs.
The Reds haven't been to the playoffs since 1995 and hadn't won 90 games since 1999, when they won 96 but dropped a one-game playoff to the Mets for the NL wild card. They hadn't come close to 90 wins again, and manager Dusty Baker set it as a primary goal during spring training.
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"Now we join all the division leaders and playoff teams that have 90-plus," Baker said. "That was big. Usually that's my goal every year but especially this year. Most of the time if you can get 90, you'll be somewhere in the playoff hunt. Usually 90 is that magic number.
"Then you start thinking back on things and you're saying, 'Hey, man, this team has the potential next year of achieving that magic 100 even, 10 more games."'
Bruce clinched the NL Central title on Tuesday with a ninth-inning solo homer. He extended his final-week tear with a two-run shot off left-hander Chris Capuano and a solo homer that was reviewed for possible fan interference.
The 23-year-old outfielder has worked on hitting left-handers this season. Ten of his 24 homers have come against lefties. He also homered off Astros left-hander Tim Byrdak for the division-clincher on Tuesday.
"I'm more comfortable, and comfort breed confidence, in my opinion," Bruce said. "There's not much of a shock value there anymore."
Baker replaced six starters after five innings and gave Joey Votto and Scott Rolen a day off to rest. Cincinnati will open the playoffs on the road next week against either Philadelphia or the NL West champion.
"I'm just trying to tune 'em up and get them some at-bats before the playoffs," Baker said. "You certainly want to go in confident and feeling you're playing well, swinging well."
Logan Ondrusek (5-0) escaped a threat in the seventh, after Milwaukee tied it at 4 on Casey McGehee's three-run homer off Jordan Smith. Francisco Cordero pitched the ninth for his 39th save in 47 tries.
Baker plans to reveal his three-man rotation and most of the playoff roster on Sunday. The Reds announced after the game that Aaron Harang will start on Sunday instead of Edinson Volquez, who would be rested enough to open the playoffs.
Homer Bailey didn't make much of a case to keep pitching in October. Bailey struck out a career-high 10 but lasted only five innings, needing 120 pitches.
"Our plan is kind of set already," Baker said. "I'll tell you tomorrow. This wasn't his sharpest game that he's thrown."
"It's whatever they want to do," Bailey said.
The 32-year-old Capuano is one of six Brewers eligible for free agency. He missed most of last season recovering from reconstructive elbow surgery, and has gone 4-4 in nine starts and 15 relief appearances. He allowed a season-high 10 hits and three runs in only 3 2/3 innings, including Bruce's homer.
"Physically I'm feeling great," Capuano said. "That's everything I hoped for this year, to feel healthy and strong.
"There will be a period after this year where I will be talking to the Brewers before I go out into that open market. I don't know what to expect on that front."
Bruce's solo shot in the fifth off Brandon Kintzler led to a 2-minute, 35-second review. Brewers manager Ken Macha contended a fan interfered with Lorenzo Cain as he tried to make the catch at the top of the wall in center. Crew chief Tim Welke upheld the homer.Notes
- Prince Fielder walked twice, padding his Brewers-record total to 113.
- Corey Hart went 0 for 5 and struck out four times, ending his hitting streak at 16 games.
- Bailey singled in the second inning, then donned a hooded Reds sweatshirt to run the bases. It was 62 degrees at the first pitch, and a steady ran began in the bottom of the fourth inning.
- It was Bruce's 10th career multihomer home, his fifth this season.