Phillies stumble out of gate, get swept in Cincinnati
- The Phils lost despite getting homers from Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz and Cedric Hunter.
- Philadelphia has now lost eight straight games in Cincinnati.
- Philadelphia was swept in a season-opening road series for the first time since 2000 at Arizona.
CINCINNATI — The Philadelphia Phillies scored more runs in their third game than they did in their first two combined. It still added up to another loss.
Jay Bruce homered twice and matched a career high with five RBIs, and the Cincinnati Reds made a winner of top pitching prospect Robert Stephenson in his major league debut by beating Philadelphia 10-6 on Thursday to complete a season-opening sweep.
Eugenio Suarez hit his first career grand slam and Bruce connected for a three-run shot as the Reds scored eight times in the fourth inning, ruining the big league debut of reliever Daniel Stumpf. Bruce capped the 13-batter outburst with an RBI single.
That type of sustained offense is something Phillies manager Pete Mackanin would like to see from his team, which scored five of its six runs on homers.
"It was nice to score six runs, but I'd like to see us string three or four hits together," Mackanin said. "I don't think we can rely on home runs. I'm not discouraged. I'm not happy. We're not swinging the bats like we were in the spring. I'd like to see more offense. I'm not taking anything away from (Cincinnati's) pitchers, but we weren't facing (Clayton) Kershaw and (Zack) Greinke."
Stephenson (1-0), a first-round draft pick in 2011, was called up from the minors on opening day to fill a temporary hole in Cincinnati's injury-depleted rotation. The right-hander allowed six hits and four runs — three earned — with two walks and one strikeout in five innings.
After the game, he was optioned back to Triple-A Louisville.
Cedric Hunter hit a leadoff homer in the fourth and Ryan Howard had a two-run shot in the fifth for Philadelphia. Carlos Ruiz added a two-run homer in the eighth.
Mackanin wasn't concerned about the lack of continuity even as the Phillies prepare to face perhaps the National League's best starting rotation during a three-game series against the Mets in New York.
"We know what we're up against," Mackanin said. "I hope we get this out of the way. We've hit good pitching before. It's not like we're going in there thinking we're in trouble."
The Reds are 3-0 for the second consecutive season. They swept a three-game series from Pittsburgh and added a win over St. Louis to open 2015.
The loss was Philadelphia's eighth straight in Cincinnati, the team's longest skid in the Queen City since a nine-game stretch at now-demolished Riverfront Stadium that spanned 1976-77.
Philadelphia has dropped seven in a row overall to the Reds, the most since an eight-game slide in 1996. ThePhillies are 0-3 for the first time since 2007, when they regrouped to win the first of five consecutive NL East championships.
Philadelphia was swept in a season-opening road series for the first time since April 2000 at Arizona.
Bruce hit his first homer of the season off starter Charlie Morton (0-1), who allowed five hits and six runs over 3 2/3 innings in his Phillies debut. Morton, who retired eight of the first nine batters he faced, is winless in six April starts since 2012.
"I felt like I was getting in trouble out of the stretch," Morton said. "I don't know if it was the second time through (Cincinnati's lineup). I felt like I was getting ahead. Then I started getting into deep counts. Got into a deep count with Bruce and I threw a changeup right down the middle. It was just a bad pitch. I've got to make pitches out of the stretch."
Morton snapped an 0-for-29 slump by leading off the third with an infield single to shortstop. Morton scored on Howard's two-out single, but only after Bruce bobbled the ball in right field for Cincinnati's first error of the season.
Hunter's first career homer was a 398-foot shot into the right-field seats. A fan threw the ball back onto the field, allowing Hunter to collect a memorable keepsake.
AGAIN AND AGAIN
After driving in the game-winning run Wednesday with a double to left field, Cincinnati outfielder Scott Schebler knocked in the tying run Thursday with a shot to virtually the same spot in the third inning.
Reds 2B Brandon Phillips stayed home with a stomach virus that caused him to be scratched from Wednesday's lineup. Cincinnati C Devin Mesoraco, CF Billy Hamilton and SS Zack Cozart, all coming off operations that cut short their 2015 seasons, also did not start on Thursday.
Phillies OF Odubel Herrera, limited to 13 exhibition games due to a jammed middle finger on his right hand, went 1 for 6 in his first two games after batting .419 (18 for 43) in spring training.
RHP Jerad Eickhoff is the scheduled starter for Philadelphia in the Mets' home opener Friday afternoon. Eickhoff was 1-2 in three starts against New York after the Phillies acquired him from Texas last July 31.