Comebacks becoming the norm for Reds

Bruce's homer caps Reds' rally vs. Phils

CINCINNATI -- As the calendar turns to July, the Reds have made it clear they're a team capable of pulling off improbable wins.

But Wednesday wasn't just another comeback.

There's something different about a late-game rally against an ace pitcher like Philadelphia's Roy Halladay.

Trailing most of the way because of a fourth-inning Phillies home run, Cincinnati clawed its way back inning by inning against Halladay, and right fielder Jay Bruce capped the comeback with a two-run blast in the eighth to give the Reds a 4-3 win.

"For us to beat a good Phillies team like that, granted they are down a few guys, but it is a big win because those are the type of guys we're going to be facing if we make it to the playoffs," Bruce said.

Phillies regulars Chase Utley, Placido Polanco and Carlos Ruiz were all out of the lineup with injuries, but the middle of the order still consisted of a pair of MVPs, and one of the best pitchers in the game still took the mound and pitched eight innings.

Locked tightly in a battle for first place in the National League Central, the Reds' Major League-leading 25th comeback win of the year earned them a 2-1 series victory before a long pre-All-Star break road trip.

The key at-bat came with no outs and Jonny Gomes standing at first base in the eighth. One pitch after Gomes singled, Bruce belted a 92-mph offering over the right-field wall for the go-ahead runs. For Bruce, it was simply a matter of hoping for something over the plate.

"He's got so much, and a little later in the game, he was catching more of the plate," Bruce said of Halladay. "Earlier in the game, he wasn't giving too much to hit. I was just looking for something over the plate that I could barrel up."

It took just one pitch for Bruce to do just that.

But the comeback started two innings earlier with Joey Votto, when he struck first for Cincinnati. The Reds had stranded two runners on base in both the second and fourth innings, when Halladay pitched his way out of jams and kept the Reds off the scoreboard.

"You just pray those don't haunt you," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "You could tell that very good pitchers, they seem to bear down and know how to get out of those situations. He reached back. He had his best velocity and location when he was in trouble."

However, momentum began to slowly shift with Votto's leadoff home run in the sixth. The next inning, Orlando Cabrera knocked in Ramon Hernandez on an RBI single, and although the Reds again left two runners on base, the stage was set for Gomes and Bruce in the eighth to deliver Halladay his seventh loss. The 13 hits he allowed were a career high.

"I'm not worried about the hits," Halladay said. "I'm worried about the one that cost me. They scored three runs on three hits, really. I'm not worried about the other ones. I made bad pitches in the eighth. I left two balls up that cost me."

For the Reds, a solid all-around pitching effort kept them within striking distance. Aaron Harang allowed a three-run home run to former Reds catcher Dane Sardinha, but those were the only runs he surrendered in a 6 1/3-inning outing. After he left, relievers Logan Ondrusek, Arthur Rhodes and Francisco Cordero combined to pitch 2 2/3 scoreless innings, with just one baserunner allowed.

As the bullpen shut the Phillies down, the Reds finally got to Halladay with their bats. Now, they leave Cincinnati for the road with their second win in nine days against a pitcher who threw a perfect game this year, having beaten Dallas Braden in Oakland last week.

And Wednesday, doing it in comeback fashion against Halladay just further added to the team's reputation for resiliency.

"It's always a delight and surprising, but it's not really like a true shock, because we've been there before and we've been doing it since Day 1," Bruce said. "We don't think we're ever out of it because of the hitters and the players that we have on this team."

Matt Brown is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.