Jay Bruce not only let the Phillies jump out in front in Game 2 of the NLDS last fall, but his misreading of a second-inning line drive let the Phillies tie the game tonight.
Of course, he made up for it by crushing a Ryan Madson pitch to deep right-center for a bases-clearing double to put the Reds up in the ninth. Madson took his first loss of the year after a wild ninth inning, snapping the Reds’ six-game losing streak and keeping their lead in the NL East at 1 1/2 games.
At the start, it looked like tonight’s game would be a barnburner. Both starters, Vance Worley and Johnny Cueto, struggled at times with umpire Brian Gorman’s strike zone. Worley, who walked four in five innings, allowed a first-inning run on a Scott Rolen single before back-to-back doubles by Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez in the second and a Domonic Brown sacrifice fly put the Phillies up 2-1. Another RBI double by Carlos Ruiz extended the lead to two before a pivotal fifth inning. The first four Reds batters in the top of the fifth reached base, tying the game at three, before Worley, sweating like Albert Brooks in Broadcast News, set down Rolen, Bruce, and Chris Heisey around a Ramon Hernandez intentional walk to limit the damage.
Neither side scored again until the aforementioned top of the ninth, when Madson cut off Placido Polanco on a Drew Stubbs dribbler in front of the mound with one out, then threw the ball away. Madson then retired Brandon Phillips, then walked Joey Votto intentionally, and it looked like the Phillies would survive at least until extra innings, but Scott Rolen scorched a liner down the third-base line that Polanco was lucky to cut off for an infield single to load the bases, and Bruce, who was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts to that point, whaled a Madson mistake off the base of the wall to put the Reds up by the eventual final of 6-3.
Roy Halladay opposes Reds lefty Travis Wood in tomorrow night’s rubber match, a repeat of the pitching matchup last July 10, when Wood took a perfect game into the top of the ninth. The Phillies won that game, 1-0 in 11 innings. Here’s hoping for a repeat performance.