Jay Bruce hit two home runs and drove in five runs and Eugenio Suarez smacked his first career grand slam to give Cincinnati Reds rookie pitcher Robert Stephenson all the offense he would need Thursday in his major-league debut.
Bruce hit a three-run shot ahead of Suarez’s grand slam as part of an eight-run fourth inning that sent the Reds to a 10-6 victory and completed a series sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies before 10,784 at Great American Ball Park.
“We feel like we’ve got a good ballclub,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “There’s a lot of optimism here. It’s a window of three games, but I think there’s a really good feeling about this group. And I think they have higher standards than everyone else sees of the Reds.”
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Stephenson, the Reds’ first-round pick in 2011, went five innings and allowed three earned runs on six hits with one strikeout and two walks.
“It was so much better than what we saw in his last start in spring training,” Price said of Stephenson, who was optioned to Triple-A Louisville after the game. “He really worked down in the zone and commanded the zone so much better than we had seen. I thought he had good composure and was very focused.”
Stephenson gave up a solo home run to Cedric Hunter in the third inning to fall behind 2-1, but the Reds sent 13 batters to the plate in the fourth. After Bruce and Suarez homered to chase Philadelphia starting pitcher Charlie Morton (0-1), Bruce singled home Joey Votto for the eighth run.
Bruce added a solo shot leading off the seventh for his 18th career multi-home run game. The blast also was the 210th of his career, tying him with Ken Griffey Jr. for seventh on the Reds’ all-time list.
“That’s pretty awesome,” Bruce said. “To be in the major leagues long enough to hit 210 homers and tie a game name like that and be mentioned in the same sentence is special.”
Bruce’s five RBIs tied his career high. He was at the plate with runners on the corners in the bottom of the eighth when Suarez got picked off first base.
Stephenson left with a 9-4 lead after throwing 87 pitches. Reliever Keyvius Sampson surrendered a two-run homer to Carlos Ruiz in the eighth for the first runs allowed by the Reds bullpen this season.
Reds catcher Tucker added three hits and scored two runs in his first start of the season, while Scott Schebler, Wednesday night’s hero, went 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run.