It may be too little, too late to make another playoff run.
Bruce and the Reds look to win four straight games for the first time in three months when they host the San Diego Padres on Saturday night.
Cincinnati (58-61) appeared headed for a loss in Friday’s series opener, but Bruce hit a three-run homer with two outs in the eighth inning, lifting the Reds to a 5-3 victory.
Bruce, the cleanup hitter, got the chance to play the hero after San Diego decided to intentionally walk No. 3 hitter Joey Votto(notes). Manager Dusty Baker typically tries to avoid placing lefties Votto and Bruce next to each other in the lineup but felt he had no choice with Brandon Phillips(notes) unable to hit after being hit on the elbow Tuesday.
“It was an uncomfortable situation for them,” Baker said. “It comes down to who do you want to face.”
Bruce, who also doubled, is batting .444 with three homers and 10 RBIs in his last five games - quite a turnaround for the All-Star right fielder, who had no home runs and six RBIs in his previous 22 contests.
With Bruce leading the way, the Reds have reeled off three consecutive wins after losing six of their first eight games this month. Cincinnati, which hasn’t won four in a row since May 13-16, is 10 games behind NL Central-leading Milwaukee with 43 to play.
The Padres (53-67) lost Friday for the third time in nine games, but probably feel like they should have won all of those contests. San Diego ranks third in the majors with a 2.98 bullpen ERA, but has squandered eighth-inning leads in each of its last three defeats.
Stauffer gave up four runs in seven innings against the New York Mets on Monday, not factoring in the decision of a 9-8 loss, but didn’t get a decision. All of the damage against Stauffer came early, as the right-hander was tagged for four runs and three homers in the first three innings before settling down and retiring 15 of the final 17 batters he faced.
He is 1-2 with a 4.15 ERA in his last four starts, after going 5-2 with a 1.33 ERA in his previous eight.
Stauffer last faced the Reds on April 13, giving up two runs and six hits in 4 1-3 innings of the Padres’ 3-2 win. He is 2-0 with a 2.18 ERA in five games - three starts - lifetime versus Cincinnati.
The Reds counter with Homer Bailey(notes) (6-5, 4.72), who has been extremely inconsistent in his five starts since the All-Star break. The right-hander has posted a 1.69 ERA in three wins, but has gone 0-1 with an 18.00 ERA in the other two outings.
Bailey’s outing against Colorado on Monday was cut short by a 1-hour, 34-minute rain delay in the middle of the third inning, although he wasn’t pitching particularly well. He permitted five runs and six hits - two homers - in a season-low three innings and didn’t get a decision in the Reds’ 10-7 loss.
Bailey is 2-0 with a 4.05 ERA in four career starts against the Padres.