The Phillies returned home after a difficult West Coast trip and scored a 4-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night. The Phils, who went 2-4 in six games at Los Angeles and San Diego, maintained their two-game lead on second-place Atlanta in the NL East. They are 36-27 overall and 21-11 at Citizens Bank Park.
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The Phils took control with three runs in the fifth inning. Newcomer Jay Bruce continued his torrid hitting with a two-run homer in that inning. Scott Kingery followed Bruce with a base hit and scored on a throwing error. The Phils added another unearned run in the bottom of the eighth.
• Zach Eflin returned after a brief stay on the injured list (sore back) and delivered a good one.
• What more can you say about Bruce? He is the first Phillie in the modern era - since 1920 - to belt four homers in his first four games with the club. Hat tip: Elias Sports Bureau. He has nine RBIs with the Phils.
•The Reds played poor defense and the Phillies capitalized for two unearned runs.
• The bullpen came up huge with 4 1/3 scoreless innings in Wednesday's win at San Diego. The ‘pen delivered another good performance in this one. Jose Alvarez got two outs and Vince Velasquez and Hector Neris got three each to protect a one-run lead.
With Seranthony Dominguez out, Velasquez was called upon to pitch the eighth. It was his most pressurized outing since going to the bullpen two weeks ago and he delivered with a ground out and two strikeouts. His fastball reached 96.8 mph.
Neris is 13 for 13 in save chances. The crowd of 32,058 stood on its feet and clapped rhythmically as Neris struck out Eugenio Suarez with two men on base for the final out.
He was very good. He pitched 6 1/3 innings and allowed just four hits and two runs. One was unearned. Two of the four walks he issued were intentional and he struck out six. He did not let a first-inning homer by Joey Votto get him off course.
The Phillies are committed to giving rookie Adam Haseley a look in center field. In fact, he was slated to start his third straight game at the position, but was held out as a precaution because of a sore hip. That meant Scott Kingery started in center field and Maikel Franco at third base. Franco's playing time has shrunk recently because of his prolonged slump and Kingery's success.
More bad news in the bullpen
Dominguez is down and likely out for a while. He has an elbow injury that GM Matt Klentak very openly said could require Tommy John surgery (see story).
The series continues Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. Nick Pivetta (3-1, 6.14) pitches against right-hander Sonny Gray (2-5, 3.54).
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