It's been a frustrating season for Cincinnati Reds slugger Jay Bruce, he's hoping to have found his stroke.
Bruce tries to build on a big day at the plate as the Reds wrap up a three-game home set against the last-place Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday.
Cincinnati (28-32) had been outscored 17-3 during a three-game losing streak before pulling out a 6-5 victory Saturday. Bruce snapped a 25-game homerless drought and drove in three runs, giving him just four long balls and 20 RBIs through 43 games after leading the Reds with 30 and 109 last year.
Bruce, who has posted three consecutive 30-homer campaigns, is batting a team-low .208 among Cincinnati's regulars.
"It's one of those things that I knew it was going to come," Bruce told MLB's official website. "I knew I had to keep on keeping on and continue to practice and have the same approach and really try to apply the approach I focus on all the time. It really hadn't been happening for me lately, but it's getting much better."
Bruce has feasted on Phillies pitching since 2011, batting .407 with 10 homers and 30 RBIs in 23 games.
Like Bruce, Homer Bailey (6-3, 4.99 ERA) hopes to be turning around a mostly disappointing season. He was 3-3 with a 5.44 ERA through his first nine outings but has since won three straight, posting quality starts in each. After outdueling Clayton Kershaw in a 3-2 victory at Dodger Stadium on May 28, Bailey allowed three runs over six innings to beat San Francisco 8-3 on Tuesday.
The right-hander has won four consecutive home outings behind a 3.29 ERA.
While Bailey has been on his game of late, he is 0-4 with a 4.41 ERA in nine career starts against the Phillies. He surrendered a season-worst six runs before exiting with two outs in the fourth inning in a 12-1 loss at Philadelphia on May 17.
Marlon Byrd is 7 for 18 with two homers and two doubles against Bailey. Carlos Ruiz and Ben Revere are a combined 10 for 19 in their matchups with him.
The Phillies (25-35) have dropped seven of eight, and they were particularly frustrated after Saturday's loss. Jimmy Rollins hit his second homer in as many days, but Philadelphia was done in by two costly baserunning blunders.
Byrd was thrown out at home to end the sixth inning before Ruiz suffered the same fate in the seventh. The play against Byrd led to manager Ryne Sandberg's first ejection after Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco appeared to be blocking the plate before the ball arrived.
"Everyone just wants to know what the rule is," Sandberg said. "What is it? It can't be just whoever is there (in New York) has their opinion, because we're teaching the catchers one thing, we're telling baserunners another thing."
Sandberg now turns to rookie David Buchanan (1-2, 6.11), who has lost back-to-back starts after winning his major league debut May 24. He was tagged for seven runs and 10 hits over six innings in Tuesday's 7-0 loss at Washington, giving up a pair of homers.
"That's what happens," Buchanan said. "You get into hitters' counts, leave the ball up and they started hitting it."
The Phillies have lost four of five at Great American Ball Park.