PHILADELPHIA -- As the regular season nears the stretch run and the Reds try to keep their lead in the National League Central, it's been a fine time for right fielder Jay Bruce to get hot at the plate.
In a 3-for-3 night with two RBIs and a walk, Bruce extended his hitting streak to nine games during Monday's 12-5 Reds loss in the series opener against the Phillies. He is batting .457 (16-for-35) with four home runs and 10 RBIs during that stretch.
"I still expect more," Bruce said. "Everybody always does, obviously, but it's good to have some results. When you work and work and work at something to get results, but try not to think about results. The main thing is we're winning still and I've been able to help out more lately than I have been. It's been good."
Since debuting in 2008, the 25-year-old Bruce has been prone to lengthy slumps in between tears as a hitter. Since the All-Star break, he's had skids of 0-for-19 in July and 0-for-13 in early August before snapping out of it.
Overall, Bruce is batting .261 with 78 RBIs, while his 25 homers were tied for third-best in the NL and tied for the club lead. Bruce, Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols were the only three players in the Majors with at least 25 homers, 30 doubles and 75 RBIs entering Monday.
"As a part of the team, you always want to help out," Bruce said. "When you don't, you hope it's not detrimental to the team. It's worked out. We have a long season left to go and I expect a lot from myself and to finish strong."
The Reds, which have needed hitters to step up during Joey Votto's prolonged injury absence, had hoped Bruce would fill the void. Now he is starting to.
"That's what you call doing your job," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "Hopefully he can remain consistent and hopefully no more down streaks the rest of the year. If he becomes consistent, it would be great for all of us."
Reds awaiting result of Mesoraco's appeal
PHILADELPHIA -- As of Monday afternoon, there was no word on an appeal for Reds rookie catcher Devin Mesoraco's three-game suspension. Mesoraco was disciplined for making contact while arguing with an umpire and being ejected on July 30 against the Padres -- the same game during which he suffered a concussion.
"We're awaiting," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "We've got some tentative word, but I have to wait to hear from Walt [Jocketty] on what it is exactly."
Jocketty, Cincinnati's general manager, is not traveling with the club this week. Mesoraco started behind the plate while Mike Leake pitched Monday against the Phillies.
If the suspension is upheld before rosters are expanded on Sept. 1, there would be ramifications. The Reds would have to make a move to bring in a catcher while still playing with 24 men.
Frazier not wilting under pressure of pennant race
PHILADELPHIA -- Not only has Reds infielder Todd Frazier become a solid candidate for National League Rookie of the Year, he's also been producing under the hot lights for a first-place team in a pennant race.
"Frazier is not scared," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He actually relishes the chance to be in a situation like this. You find out a lot about people during these times. You find out who wants to be here. You find out who'd rather not be there at the same time. I'm just glad we've got a room full of guys who love to compete and love the situation of the possibility on winning. And Frazier is one of the main guys."
Frazier, who did not start on Monday, entered the night batting .288 with 17 home runs and 54 RBIs. He's batted .302 with seven homers and 24 RBIs in 33 games since Joey Votto has been out with a knee injury while primarily playing first base. Frazier has also played third base for Scott Rolen.
Sent out the day after Spring Training ended in a roster crunch, Frazier's production and success wasn't entirely expected. But it also wasn't a surprise.
"It's hard to say what you expect because you don't know what to expect," Baker said. "He's been one of our top prospects for a long time, and you really don't know what to expect when a guy has an unconventional, non-orthodox way of hitting. But it works for him."