CINCINNATI -- Move Jay Bruce to first base, and he homers. Put him back in his customary spot in right field, he homers again.
Bruce is following the deepest slump of his career with one of his best stretches of homers.
Bruce returned to right field and hit another two-run shot Tuesday afternoon, helping Johnny Cueto extend his winning streak against Chicago and leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 4-2 victory over the Cubs in the opener of a doubleheader.
The Reds put first baseman Joey Votto back on the disabled list before the game, hoping a strained muscle above his left knee will heal enough to let him play this season. They are using different players -- including Bruce -- at the position for now.
Bruce played first base for the first time since high school and hit a two-run homer in his final at-bat during a 9-3 win on Monday night in the opener of the five-game series. He was back in the outfield and homered again in the first inning off left-hander Travis Wood (7-7).
“He’s been taking advantage of pitches to drive,” Reds manager Bryan Price said.
The left-handed-hitting outfielder has 50 homers off lefties during the last five seasons, the most by any player in the majors.
“A three-run first inning is always good,” Bruce said. “You know when Johnny has the ball that you have a legitimate chance to win the game. We were able to pull it out.”
Cueto (9-6), who was picked for his first All-Star team on Sunday, extended his stretch of success against the Cubs. He is 5-0 in his last seven starts against Chicago, allowing only six earned runs for a 1.19 ERA. Cueto gave up six hits, including back-to-back homers in the sixth by Chris Coghlan and Ryan Sweeney.