Jay Bruce has been getting pitches to hit all season. Lately, he's doing something with them.
Bruce homered his first time up, then doubled twice during a seven-run burst as the Cincinnati Reds delighted a sellout crowd, battering the Milwaukee Brewers 13-7 on Saturday.
"It's a long season," said Bruce, who's hit just three homers after leading the Reds with 34 last season. "I'm trying to get pitches to hit. Lately, I've been missing them less."
Manager Dusty Baker has seen his two-time All-Star starting to put it together.
"I told Jay he's on his way," Baker said. "You could tell the way he's been swinging the bat the last couple of days."
Six different Reds players drove in two runs each, including starting pitcher Mat Latos (4-0).
Baker never is comfortable against the hard-hitting Brewers.
"You've got to get a lot of run support," said Baker, whose defending NL Central champions moved five games over .500 for the first time this season. "Those guys can hit. You've got to keep scoring and scoring and scoring."
The bottom five hitters in Cincinnati's lineup were a combined 8 for 9 in the first three innings alone, scoring 10 runs and driving in six against Hiram Burgos (1-1). The rookie allowed 12 runs on 11 hits and three walks in those three innings.
"You feel kind of bad for the kid, but you can't be called off," Baker said. "You could tell it was going to be one of those-high scoring games."
Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke felt as if he had no choice but to leave Burgos in the game.
"I don't ever want to do that to somebody again," he said. "We're hurting in the bullpen."
A promotion featuring Aroldis Chapman bobbleheads drew a crowd of 41,678. The Reds never needed their closer after romping early.
Bruce led off a five-run second that was helped by a pair of fielding mistakes by left fielder Ryan Braun. Bruce opened the seven-run third with a double and capped it with an RBI double that made it 12-4.
Bruce became the first Reds player with two hits in one inning since Drew Stubbs on April 25, 2011, at Milwaukee and the first Reds player with two doubles in one inning since Sean Casey on Aug. 7, 1998, also against Milwaukee.
Latos won his fourth straight start. He allowed a total of 14 runs in his previous seven starts, but gave up seven in this win, including solo homers by Jean Segura and Norichika Aoki.
"Give the `W' to the offense," a plainly disgusted Latos said. "They deserve it. I felt all right. I didn't allow myself to have my best stuff. I was aggravated with myself. It was a poor performance."
Latos got two hits and scored twice.
"I could't care less," he said. "I gave up seven runs. ... I couldn't care less about the hits."
Latos almost didn't last long enough to qualify for the win, Baker said.
"I was tempted (to pull Latos) in the fifth," Baker said. "I told him, `You're about to blow this victory.' We helped him."
Latos gave up a homer to Segura with one out in the first and Aramis Ramirez hit an RBI double off the wall later in the inning.
Baker believes the Brewers are even more dangerous with Segura, who's in his first full season with Milwaukee after being acquired from the Angels in the Zack Greinke deal last July.
"With Segura,you've got to score even more," Baker said. "He's a heck of a player. That was a heck of a trade."
After Bruce opened the Reds' second with a 437-foot homer for his second shot in three games, Braun allowed what looked like an easy fly ball by Xavier Paul to drop behind him for a two-base error. Braun later overthrew the cutoff man on Zack Cozart's sacrifice fly, allowing runners to advance and setting up Joey Votto's RBI groundout.