Bruce returns to lineup for finale, goes deep

Bruce returns to lineup for finale, goes deep

Bruce returns to lineup for finale, goes deep
CHICAGO -- Jay Bruce was back in the starting lineup on Sunday against the Cubs after sitting out the last two games while dealing with a cold streak at the plate.

The days off appeared to be just what the slugger needed, as Bruce hit his 22nd home run, a two-run shot, in the fifth to help the Reds take the finale, 3-0.

After going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts on Thursday, manager Dusty Baker had opted to sit Bruce for the past two games -- both Cincinnati victories.

"I'll just do what I can to help out," Bruce said before Sunday's game. "We've played good ball the last couple games and I'm just going to do what I can, do what I know I can do and just be prepared and see what happens."

As for the benching, Bruce said he had no problem with Baker's logic. He was hitless in his previous 13 at-bats, striking out seven times, before Sunday's blast.

"It's tough, but the bottom line is I wasn't getting the job done," said the 25-year-old Bruce, a two-time All-Star who has 22 home runs and 69 RBIs. "I think it was as much that he wanted me to clear my head a little bit. It is what it is. I'm a professional, and this is a Major League baseball team and I completely understand."

The left-handed hitting Bruce came into Sunday's game batting just .211 with 40 strikeouts against lefties this season. The Cubs started a southpaw, Brooks Raley. However, Bruce knows from breaking out of past slumps that having one good at-bat or one good game can not only snap a slide, but start a hot streak.

"Absolutely [it can], and Dusty does a pretty good job of recognizing when you need a day or two [off]," Bruce said. "He tries to really juggle that as well as he can, and he does a good job of it."