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Bruce, Suarez power Reds to sweep over Phils

April 7, 2016

CINCINNATI -- With Jay Bruce and Eugenio Suarez leading the charge on Thursday, the Reds erupted with an eight-run fourth inning en route to a 10-6 victory over the Phillies and three-game series sweep to open the 2016 season. Bruce notched two homers in the win, with a career-high-tying five

CINCINNATI -- With Jay Bruce and Eugenio Suarez leading the charge on Thursday, the Reds erupted with an eight-run fourth inning en route to a 10-6 victory over the Phillies and three-game series sweep to open the 2016 season. Bruce notched two homers in the win, with a career-high-tying five RBIs.
Philadelphia took a 1-0 lead in the third when Bruce's fielding error on Ryan Howard's single let pitcher Charlie Morton score an unearned run off of Robert Stephenson. Bruce redeemed himself in the fourth with two men on base and no outs when he slugged a three-run homer to right field. The rally continued as reliever Daniel Stumpf couldn't stop the momentum in his Major League debut. With the bases loaded and two outs, Suarez launched the first grand slam of his career into the left-field seats.
Cincinnati sent 13 men to the plate in the fourth, and Bruce returned to hit an RBI single to center field to score Joey Votto. He added a second homer -- a shot to center field -- that led off the seventh. More >

Stephenson, the Reds' No. 2 prospect according to MLBPipeline, allowed four runs (three earned) in five innings with six hits, two walks and one strikeout for the victory in his big league debut. He was optioned to Triple-A Louisville following the game.
Cedric Hunter hit his first career homer in the fourth to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead. Howard knocked a two-out two-run homer in the fifth off of Stephenson to center field. Carlos Ruiz cut the deficit to 10-6 in the eighth with a two-run dinger to left.

It is the first time the Phillies started a season 0-3 since 2007, when they lost three at home to the Braves.
"You play a few games and you just try not to let the results affect you either way," Morton said. "Obviously, you try to take the positives and move forward. But try not to let the momentum of negative things happen. Try not to carry those things with you."
The Reds are off to their second-straight 3-0 start after they began 2015 with a 4-0 record.
"Everybody wants to come out there, and we feel like we've got a good ballclub," Reds manager Bryan Price said of his retooling club that wasn't picked to contend in 2016. "It's only going to get better as our pitchers continue to get healthy out in Goodyear, [Ariz.] There's a lot of optimism here. We don't look at ourselves as a bad team. We like our team, and I think throughout the course of the spring and summer, there will be a lot of good baseball in Cincinnati."
Barnhart eludes tag: With two outs in the third inning, Scott Schebler lined a double to the left-field wall against Morton. Chugging from first base, Tucker Barnhart was waved home by third-base coach Billy Hatcher and scored just ahead of the throw. Barnhart managed to leap over Ruiz's tag and touch the plate with his hand before rolling on the dirt.
"I had to come in and look at it to see what I did," Barnhart said. "I wasn't sure what happened. Luckily, I got in there. [Suarez] was behind the plate telling me I needed to slide outside, so I tried. I kind of rolled in there. I don't know if I could ever do that again, honestly."

About that pitching: Phillies starters Jeremy Hellickson and Aaron Nola pitched well Monday and Wednesday, but Morton struggled in the series finale. He allowed five hits and six runs in 3 ⅔ innings. The bullpen continued its struggles, too. Stumpf allowed a grand slam in the fourth to give the Reds a 9-2 lead. More >
"I got my feet wet," Stumpf said about his Major League debut. "You can't go any lower than what I did today. There's only room for improvement at this point."
Long-ball logistics: Bruce's three-run homer in the fourth was his first of the season. There was no doubt it was clearing the right-field fence as Statcast™ said the ball traveled 395 feet after it left the bat at 100 mph at a 30-degree launch angle. Suarez's slam had a 39-degree launch trajectory to left field, while exiting the bat at 100 mph and traveling 365 feet.

A long time coming: Hunter hit a solo homer to right field in the fourth. It was the first long ball of his career and his first hit in the big leagues since April 5, 2011. It was also just the second hit from a Phillies outfielder this season. More >

"We know what we're up against. I'm hoping we got this out of the way. There's no excuses. We're not going to be the best hitting team in the league, but I don't think we're the worst hitting team in the league. I think we're going to show better than we did. We've hit good pitchers before. It's not like I'm going in there thinking we're in trouble." -- Phillies manager Pete Mackanin, on the Phillies opening a three-game series Friday against the Mets.
Howard singled to right field with runners in scoring position in the third. It marked the Phillies' first hit with a runner in scoring position this season. The Phillies and Padres both entered Thursday 0-for-11 in those situations. Howard later connected on a two-run homer to center field in the fifth. It was his first dinger of the season.
Bruce now has 123 homers at Great American Ball Park. That leaves him three shy of the 126 hit by all-time leader Adam Dunn.
Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco got hit with a pitch just below his left elbow in the ninth. Franco stayed in the game, and he said afterward he should be fine. Franco had his elbow wrapped in ice after the game. He said he did not have an X-ray.
"I'll be fine. I'll be good," Franco said. "We'll see how it is tomorrow, but I'll be fine." 
Phillies: The Phillies head to New York to open a three-game series at 1:10 p.m. ET Friday against the Mets at Citi Field. Right-hander Jerad Eickhoff makes his 2016 debut. He earned a spot in the Phillies' rotation based on eight strong starts late last season after joining the organization in the Cole Hamels trade with Texas in July.
Reds: The homestand continues at 7:10 p.m. ET Friday when the Reds begin a three-game series with the Pirates. The night will mark the regular-season return of starting pitcher Alfredo Simon, who spent 2015 with the Tigers after three seasons in Cincinnati. Simon signed a one-year, $2 million deal on March 17.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. Todd Zolecki is a reporter for Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast.