Jay Bruce’s 2-run homer leads Phillies over Reds 4-2

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jay Bruce is happier about playing in front of big crowds than a hitter-friendly ballpark.

Bruce hit a two-run homer, Zach Eflin threw 6 1/3 sharp innings and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Cincinnati Reds 4-2 Friday night.

Bruce already has four homers in four games with the NL East-leading Phillies after hitting 14 for Seattle before he was acquired in a trade last week. He’s the first Phillies player who debuted with the team in the modern era to hit four home runs in his first four games with the team, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

“I’m excited to play in front of people, a lot of them,” Bruce said. “Not to take away from any other situations I’ve been in, this place is different. I’m excited.”

Joey Votto hit a solo shot for the Reds, who have dropped four of five.

Eflin (6-5) gave up two runs — one earned — and four hits. An injury-depleted bullpen missing seven relievers got eight outs, with Hector Neris finishing for his 13th save in 13 tries.

Reds starter Tyler Mahle (2-6) cruised through the first four innings. But J.T. Realmuto led off the fifth with a single and Bruce followed with an opposite-field shot to left-center to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead.

“He’s as good as I’ve seen him,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said of Bruce. “We’re lucky to have him right now.”

Scott Kingery followed Bruce’s drive with a single and later scored when catcher Tucker Barnhart tried to pick him off third and made a wild throw for an error.

The Phillies got an insurance run in the eighth on a throwing error by shortstop Jose Peraza trying to complete a double play. Cesar Hernandez and Bryce Harper hit consecutive singles before Jean Segura’s grounder to second base turned into a run.

“We believe our guys will come through in that situation if we keep getting opportunities,” Reds manager David Bell said.

Votto hit an opposite-field homer to left to give the Reds the lead in the first. Jose Iglesias’ RBI single in the sixth cut it to 3-2.

Mahle allowed three runs — two earned — and four hits in five innings.

“Other than one pitch, he was outstanding against a good lineup,” Bell said.

JAY’S DAY

Bruce has homered in at least three straight games for the 14th time in his career and third instance this season. He has 18 homers and 37 RBIs in only 51 games.

NEW SETUP MAN

Vince Velasquez, a converted starter, fanned two in a perfect eighth for the Phillies. Velasquez began the season in the rotation but moved to the bullpen after six mostly ineffective starts.

“It’s a big role,” Velasquez said. “I’m very optimistic about any type of role. I’m waiting for the call. It’s an honor to be in that role.”

ROSTER MOVES

The Phillies recalled lefty Ranger Suarez from Triple-A Lehigh Valley and sent righty Yacksel Rios down.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Reds: INF Alex Blandino played in his fourth rehab game at Triple-A Louisville. He’s returning from right knee surgery last July.

Phillies: RHP Seranthony Dominguez was placed on the 10-day injury list with a right ulnar collateral ligament injury. … CF Adam Haseley was scratched from the lineup because of soreness in his left hip flexor.

UP NEXT

RHP Tanner Roark (4-4, 3.47 ERA) starts for the Reds and RHP Nick Pivetta (3-1, 6.14) goes for the Phillies on Saturday afternoon.