Bryce Harper heating up as Phillies, Reds play again

Slumps never seem to bother Bryce Harper.

After an 0-for-11 start at the plate, Harper hit three home runs, including a grand slam, and drove in a career-best six runs to lift the host Philadelphia Phillies past the Cincinnati Reds 9-4 on Tuesday.

It was the second career three-home run game for Harper and his first since 2015.

“Just trying to go up there and get runs on the board early,” Harper told NBC Sports Philadelphia.

“It’s just a matter of time for him,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson added. “He’s a great hitter.”

On a chilly and rainy night when the game had been questionable to even be played, Harper was locked in.

Harper will look to continue his positive offensive momentum when the Phillies host the Reds in the series finale Wednesday. The game was moved from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET because of more rain in the forecast earlier in the day.

In addition, Harper scored the 1,000th run of his career.

“Pretty cool,” Harper said. “I’ve got to thank all the guys who have hit me in.”

Brandon Marsh added a solo home run and two singles for the Phillies.

Ricardo Pinto, who was called up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley, threw four innings and gave up five hits and three runs with one unearned. Pinto picked up his first career save after arriving at the ballpark in the fourth inning.

“He got stuck in traffic,” Thomson said.

The Phillies will hand the ball to Zack Wheeler (0-0, 0.00 ERA) on Wednesday. Wheeler started on Opening Day and tossed six scoreless innings.

Wheeler is 1-1 with a 3.22 ERA in six career starts against the Reds.

The Reds will look to bounce back and win the series on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Will Benson hit an RBI double and Spencer Steer had three hits and an RBI for the Reds, who weren’t able to contain Harper, a two-time Most Valuable Player.

“He had a great game,” Reds manager David Bell said. “He absolutely beat us tonight.”

But the Reds struggled mightily on defense with three errors, two by Elly De La Cruz.

“I think a couple plays he tried to make too quick,” Bell said of De La Cruz. “He can’t be tentative, has to be aggressive and try to make plays. That’ll be the message. He already knows that. You have to continue to want the ball hit to you.”

Frankie Montas is scheduled to start for the Reds on Wednesday.

Montas (1-0, 0.00 ERA) threw six scoreless innings with four strikeouts in his first start of the season against the Washington Nationals.

“I was just trying to go out there and have fun and just put in a good performance,” Montas said after the outing. “I know what I can do when I’m healthy. People know what I can do when I’m healthy. This is a healthy Frankie Montas. This is a healthy version of me. So I’m just trying to enjoy every part of it.”

Montas is 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in one career start against the Phillies.

The 31-year-old Montas signed a one-year, $16 million deal with the Reds. He was injured much of last season following labrum surgery on Feb. 21, 2023.

–Field Level Media