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06/02/08 11:20 PM ET
Bruce homers again, but Reds fall
Rookie phenom has now gone deep in three straight games
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- Jay Bruce at home and on the road? No different thus far. The Reds at home and on the road this season? Big difference. Bruce had what's become his requisite multihit game, which included another home run, but Bronson Arroyo labored on the mound and gave up three home runs in a 5-4 Reds loss to the Phillies on Monday night at Citizens Bank Park. Besides a few stragglers, the chants of "Bruuuuuce" were missing at Citizens Bank Park. Just about everything else was the same in road game No. 1 for Bruce. The 21-year-old kept hitting. Bruce went 2-for-4 and is now batting .577 (15-for-26) with three homers and seven RBIs through his first seven big league games. He has a slugging percentage of 1.038. "Jay hit the ball great. It's nothing new," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "We talk about it every day. It's the same thing. We hope he continues swinging until some of the other guys get hot." After he smoked a line drive that was caught by Ryan Howard at first base in the first inning, Bruce returned in the third and lifted a 1-1 pitch from Kyle Kendrick into the left-field seats. It gave the rookie homers in three straight games. "He's pretty good," Kendrick said. "The one he hit out was up and away. He still had to hit it, but he did. I have to give him credit. He put some good swings on the ball." In the sixth, the left-handed Bruce broke his bat to hit a single, also to the opposite field. The Reds were coming off of a 5-1 homestand in which they averaged just over six runs a game. They had won 11 of their past 12 games played at Great American Ball Park. Willie Nelson's classic tune, "On the Road Again," wouldn't last one verse on the clubhouse stereo these days. Cincinnati has dropped 13 of its past 16 games while wearing the road grays. Arroyo did little to improve his team's road fortunes. The Reds were trailing by a 5-1 score when he was lifted with one out in the fifth inning. "Bronson didn't have it tonight, really," Baker said. "He made some mistakes and they didn't miss him." With one out in the bottom of the first inning and a runner on first, Arroyo (4-5) gave Chase Utley a 3-0 fastball down the middle of the plate. Utley smoked it for a two-run homer to right field and a 2-0 Phillies lead. It was Utley's Major League-leading 21st homer and his fifth in five games. In the fourth inning, Geoff Jenkins hit a leadoff double before Pedro Feliz hit a two-run homer. Next was Chris Coste, who made it back-to-back homers for a 5-1 lead. "I didn't have good command," Arroyo said. "I didn't have very good stuff. I was constantly pitching 2-1, 3-1, 3-0, and every ball they hit hard tonight were horrible pitches." Arroyo was lifted with one out and the bases loaded in the fifth. In his first appearance since his recall from Triple-A Louisville, Gary Majewski cleaned up the mess by inducing Feliz's double play on the ground to third base. Overall, Arroyo gave up five earned runs and tied a season high with 10 hits. He walked two and struck out four. Coming into the game, the right-hander had resurrected a dreadful early season by going 3-0 with a 1.95 ERA over his previous five starts. "I knew it was going to be an uphill battle as soon as I warmed up in the 'pen," Arroyo said. "I didn't have much of anything at all. It was going to be tough. You have to bring your 'A' game to beat these guys. Actually, being a 5-4 game was a lot closer than it probably should have been as bad as I pitched." Leading off in the fifth, Edwin Encarnacion added a solo homer to left field off Kendrick (5-2). Adam Dunn's two-run double off Chad Durbin in the sixth made it a one-run game. Despite the closeness of the game, the Reds didn't have many chances. Other than the sixth inning, when they chased Kendrick, they only batted one other time with a runner in scoring position, but Brandon Phillips was left stranded on third base in the third. There were several well-hit balls that went for outs. Joey Votto seemed to corner the market on tough luck. Two of his rocket line drives were nabbed by Utley on beautiful diving plays at second base, including one for the last out of the game. "Joey hit the ball great," Baker said. "You can't guide it. All you can do is hit it. I thought, sooner or later, we were going to win that game on a blooper. We deserved a blooper." With the Reds' road karma, there was nothing doing.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.