Latos, Reds win pitchers' duel on Bruce's blast

Latos, Reds win pitchers' duel on Bruce's blast

Latos, Reds win pitchers' duel on Bruce's blast
CINCINNATI -- For the first time in about six weeks, the Reds had Joey Votto off of the disabled list and at their disposal. Manager Dusty Baker only considered Votto available to pinch-hit in case of an emergency.

On a tear of late, Jay Bruce made sure his team didn't need Votto. It was Bruce's two-run home run in the sixth inning that secured a 2-1 victory over the Phillies for the Reds and starter Mat Latos.

Cincinnati was trailing, 1-0, with two outs in the sixth when Ryan Ludwick singled to right field against Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick. Getting a changeup in a 2-1 count, Bruce followed by lining it quickly into the first few rows of right-field seats.

"He's been swinging it well, you've got to give credit to him," Kendrick said. "You don't want to at times, but he put a good swing on the ball. It's a tough one."

It was Bruce's third straight game with a homer and the fourth time out of his last five games. In his five-game hitting streak, he has 10 RBIs -- which has accounted for more than half of the Reds' 19 runs in that span.

"Honestly, I'm just doing what I can. I don't think about it too much," Bruce said. "I'm glad I could help. Mat did great tonight. He deserved that [win], so it was good."

Not thinking a lot has been big in the equation for Bruce. Aug. 10-11 in Chicago, while he was in a slump with his average down to .243, Baker sat Bruce for two games.

"It was a 'get your head together couple of days,'" Baker said. "You hate to sit guys, especially for two days. But sometimes, one day isn't enough."

In 22 games since returning to the lineup, Bruce is batting .345 (29-for-84) with 10 homers and 24 RBIs. Overall, he is batting .261 with 31 homers (one shy of his career high) and 91 RBIs.

"I think it just let me kind of take a step back mentally," Bruce said of his benching. "Sometimes you realize a lot of things. Sometimes you just quit thinking so much. We all get into trouble with thinking too much and really trying to figure something out that doesn't have to be figured out."

Bruce also saved a run defensively in the second. He made a long running catch in the right-field corner to take an RBI hit away from Nate Schierholtz.

Latos (12-4) pitched seven innings and gave up one run on four hits with two walks and six strikeouts. Over his last 14 starts, Latos is 7-2 with a 2.44 ERA.

There was a dark turn of events for Latos, starting in the bottom of the third when he was picked off of third base for the third out. It appeared that he was accidentally stepped on by third baseman Kevin Frandsen on the play.

"He wound up clipping my wrist with his shoe. But I was fine," Latos said. "Why, did I throw bad?"

After he had retired 10 of his first 11 batters, Latos pitched himself into a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth. Following Chase Utley's one-out double to the wall in right-center field, Ryan Howard was hit by a first pitch and John Mayberry Jr. walked. A four-pitch walk to Domonic Brown forced home the game's first run.

"He pitched a heck of a game except for that one inning," Baker said. "He lost the strike zone and had some near pitches."

A blown call followed that gave Latos a huge break. Schierholtz laced a low liner to center field to Drew Stubbs, who made a back-handed snag of the ball on a short hop. It was ruled an out on the fly by second-base umpire D.J. Reyburn. Stubbs fired a throw to second base to get an inning-ending double play.

"That saved the game for us, or at least kept us in the game so that Jay Bruce's home run would mean something," Baker said. "I couldn't tell from where I was. He was backhanding it like that, it's a tough call for the umpire."

In the fifth, Latos gave up Jimmy Rollins' 2,000th career hit for a double that put runners on second and third with one out. Latos did damage control well again and escaped with a pair of groundouts as he went on to retire his final eight batters.

Jonathan Broxton took over in the top of the eighth and retired the side in order. Aroldis Chapman pitched a one-walk ninth for his NL-leading 35th save, and 27th in a row.

Cincinnati is 24-19 in one-run games this season. In six games with the Phillies, four have been one-run games that are testing the Reds before they make a playoff push.

"We've done a great job with that all year in my opinion," Bruce said. "We've had a lot of come-from-behind wins. You can never give us any breathing room or we're going to take advantage of it."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.