Bruce picking right time to heat up offensively

Bruce picking right time to heat up offensively

Bruce picking right time to heat up offensively
PHILADELPHIA -- As the regular season nears the stretch run and the Reds try to keep their lead in the National League Central, it's been a fine time for right fielder Jay Bruce to get hot at the plate.

In a 3-for-3 night with two RBIs and a walk, Bruce extended his hitting streak to nine games during Monday's 12-5 Reds loss in the series opener against the Phillies. He is batting .457 (16-for-35) with four home runs and 10 RBIs during that stretch.

"I still expect more," Bruce said. "Everybody always does, obviously, but it's good to have some results. When you work and work and work at something to get results, but try not to think about results. The main thing is we're winning still and I've been able to help out more lately than I have been. It's been good."

Since debuting in 2008, the 25-year-old Bruce has been prone to lengthy slumps in between tears as a hitter. Since the All-Star break, he's had skids of 0-for-19 in July and 0-for-13 in early August before snapping out of it.

Overall, Bruce is batting .261 with 78 RBIs, while his 25 homers were tied for third-best in the NL and tied for the club lead. Bruce, Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols were the only three players in the Majors with at least 25 homers, 30 doubles and 75 RBIs entering Monday.

"As a part of the team, you always want to help out," Bruce said. "When you don't, you hope it's not detrimental to the team. It's worked out. We have a long season left to go and I expect a lot from myself and to finish strong."

The Reds, which have needed hitters to step up during Joey Votto's prolonged injury absence, had hoped Bruce would fill the void. Now he is starting to.

"That's what you call doing your job," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "Hopefully he can remain consistent and hopefully no more down streaks the rest of the year. If he becomes consistent, it would be great for all of us."