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Bruce Homers Against Former Club as Phillies Win 3rd Straight

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

The Philadelphia Phillies (36-27) began their six-game home stand Friday evening on a high note, topping the National League Central-worst Cincinnati Reds (28-34), 4-2 — behind Jay Bruce's two-run home run against his former club, and quality pitching from starter Zach Eflin and the bullpen. Right-hander Hector Neris, in particular, notched his 13th save in as many opportunities in the ninth; Neris has posted a 1.35 ERA and 0.900 WHIP ratio since his first 2019 appearance.

Bruce series-opener home run — during his first game in a Phillies uniform at Citizens Bank Park — came against the Reds, the team that drafted him 12th overall in the 2005 amateur draft. The Beaumont, Texas, native slugged 233 home runs with the Reds from 2008 to 2016, and ranks eighth on their all-time home runs list (1,220 games). Ken Griffey Jr. ranks ninth (210, 945 games).

After recently losing a season-high five straight games, the Phillies have responded by winning three straight contests to maintain their two-game lead in the National League East.

Three-fourths of the Phillies runs were scored in the fifth inning; after J.T. Realmuto singled to center to begin the frame, Bruce blasted a 381-foot, go-ahead home run to left center — his fourth in as many games in a Phillies uniform, first as a Phillie at Citizens Bank Park, and 18th overall this season. Bruce just missed a home run in his first at-bat in the second inning. Later in the fifth, Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart committed his first error of the year — an errant pick-off attempt to third base, allowing Scott Kingery to score his club's third run of the game.

The Phillies took advantage of another Reds error in the eighth, with Cesar Hernandez scoring on a throwing error by shortstop Jose Peraza to pull ahead, 4-2.

Zach Eflin yielded just two runs (one earned) on four hits, four walks, six strikeouts and 95 pitches en route to his sixth win; his first hit allowed was a solo home run to slugger Joey Votto in the first inning, Votto's first home run since May 14. The Reds' unearned run came via a Jose Iglesias RBI single to center, allowing Derek Dietrich — who reached on a Maikel Franco fielding error at the start of the inning — to score.

In relief of Eflin, Jose Alvarez, Vince Velasquez — on his 27th birthday — and Neris combined for 2 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing only two hits and one walks, along with punching out five batters. Velasquez, in particular, struck out both Yasiel Puig and Iglesias swinging, back-to-back, en route to his first career hold.

Pre-Game Transactions:

  • Activated RHP Zach Eflin (mid-back tightness) from the 10-day injured list.
  • Recalled LHP Ranger Suarez from Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
  • Placed RHP Seranthony Dominguez on 10-day injured list with ulnar collateral ligament damage in his right elbow. Tommy John surgery is possible; Dominguez will seek a second opinion.
  • Optioned RHP Yacksel Rios to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Game Notes:

  • Thirty-one of Bruce's 42 hits this season have gone for extra bases (73.8 percent).
  • Eflin's home run allowed to Votto marked the Phillies' National League-leading 100th home run allowed this season. Phillies batters, meanwhile, have slugged 75 home runs.
  • The Phillies and Reds each collected six hits; the Phillies went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position, while the Reds went 1-for-10.
  • Adam Haseley was originally slated to play for his Citizens Bank Park debut, however was removed from the lineup with "left hip flexor soreness," according to Phillies Manager Gabe Kapler.
  • Eflin's ERA shrunk from 3.02 to 2.88; he is the only Phillies starter with a sub-4 ERA, and has given up 1 run or less in 7 of 12 starts, NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Clark notes.
    • Clark adds: "Zach Eflin is 4-1 with a 2.10 ERA in his 5 home starts this season He has allowed 1 earned run or none in 6 of his last 7 starts at CBP."
  • Reds starter RHP Tyler Mahle suffered the losing decision and fell to 2-6 (5 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO, HR, 73 pitches, 48 strikes).
  • The last Phillies player to hit for the cycle, David Bell in 2004 against the Montreal Expos, returned to Citizens Bank Park — as the manager of the opposing Reds. The Phillies showed a video of the cycle on the scoreboard between innings; every Reds fielder stopped to watch, the Enquirer's Bobby Nightengale notes.

What's Next:

  • Saturday, June 8, 2019: vs. Cincinnati Reds, 4:05 p.m.
    • Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Pa.
    • RHP Tanner Roark (4-4, 3.47 ERA) vs. RHP Nick Pivetta (3-1, 6.14 ERA)
    • TV: NBCSP; Radio: SportsRadio 94 WIP


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