By HAL McCOY
The heaviest rumor involving Jay Bruce is that he is most coveted by the San Francisco Giants, a team scouring the baseball world for a power-hitting, left handed outfielder.
If that’s true, then what happened in AT&T Park Monday night probably caused the Giants to offer the Golden Gate Bridge to the Cincinnati Reds for Bruce. And Fisherman’s Wharf, too
AT&T Park is a big place, a mammoth place, but Bruce shrunk it dramatically Monday with a pair of two-run home runs, including the game-winner in the sixth inning of a 7-5 Reds victory.
THE REDS FIGURED THEY had the Giants, leaders of the National League West, right where they wanted them.
—The Giants had lost seven of their first eight games after the All-Star game.
—The Giants were pitching Jake Peavy, 5-and-8 with a 5.15 earned run average and the last time the Reds saw Peavy in May in Great American Ball Park they ripped him for seven runs in six innings.
—The Reds were pitching Anthony DeSclafani, 5-and-0 with a 2.50 earned run average.
IT WASN’T THE BEST OF nights for DeSclafani. He made it only through five innings and gave up five runs, six hits, two walks and two home runs.
When he left, the Reds trailed, 5-4, but Bruce’s two-run home run off Peavy in the sixth made DeSclafani the winner, pushing his record to 6-and-0.
DeSclafani gave up a run in the first when Denard Span opened the inning with a double and scored on Buster Posey’s two-single.
Bruce wiped that out in the fourth. Joey Votto walked, the eighth straight game in which Votto has drawn at least one walk, and Bruce homered into the front row of the right field seats.
The Giants asked for a replay/review, believing a fan reached over the wall to catch the ball, asking for interference. But the home run stood and the Reds led, 2-1. Peavy then walked Adam Duvall and Eugenio Suarez crushed his 17th home run to give the Reds a 4-1 lead.
BUT DESCLAFANI WASN’T up to holding the lead. He hadn’t walked a batter in 21 innings but he walked Brandon Crawford to open the fourth.
That brought up Brandon Belt, who entered the game 2 for 33 (.061) since the All-Star break. But he makes a five-course meal out of Cincinnati pitching and he ripped a home run to cut the Reds lead to 4-3. At that point, Belt was 22 for 42 (.524) the last two years against the Reds.
The Giants took the lead, 5-4, in the fifth when Denard Span singled off DeSclafani’s shin and Angel Pagan air-lifted a home run to the top row of the right field bleachers, a couple of feet shy of clearing the stands and splash-landing his home run into McCovey Cove.
IT LASTED ONLY LONG enough for the Reds to come to back in the sixth. Joey Votto led with a double and Bruce ignited his second home run of the night, tying Adam Duvall for the team lead with 23. Bruce, though leads in RBI with 77.
The Reds added an insurance run in the top of the ninth on Billy Hamilton’s suicide squeeze bunt on which he beat for a hit. Eugenio Suarez, who opened the inning with a double, scored from third on the bunt to make it 7-5.
After DeSclafani left, the suddenly resurgent Reds bullpen turned the spigot off on the Giants. Jumbo Diaz pitched a one-two-three sixth, Raisel Iglesias retired six straight in the seventh and eighth.
Tony Cingrani gave up a leadoff single to Brandon Belt in the bottom of the ninth, then retired the next three, the last two on strikeouts for his 11th save.
THE REDS HAD ONLY SEVEN hits, three of them home runs, but everybody on a hitting streak kept their streaks alive — Brandon Phillips 13, Joey Votto 10, Billy Hamilton 8, Jay Bruce 7 and Zack Cozart 7.
The night, though, belonged to Bruce. If the Giants are smart, Bruce will be wearing a Giants uniform when the second game of the series begins Tuesday night.