Bruce belted a solo home run off nemesis Madison Bumgarner to snap a tie in the seventh inning Wednesday and lift the Reds to a 2-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants in the finale of a three-game series.
Right-hander Dan Straily limited the Giants to three hits in 7 2/3 innings in his AT&T Park debut, helping the Reds win for the second time in three days in San Francisco.
The two-out-of-three series win was Cincinnati's fourth in a row since the All-Star break.
"It's important for us to win as many games as we can," Bruce said of his last-place ballclub. "It's important to experience what it takes to win."
Straily outdueled Bumgarner, who was pitching at home for the first time since his near-no-hitter on July 10 against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Bumgarner (10-6) had allowed only three hits in six innings before Bruce smacked his first pitch of the seventh well over the right-field wall for his 25th home run, his fourth of the series and sixth in five games. The blast, which gave the Reds a 2-1 lead, marked his first career extra-base hit against the four-time All-Star.
"If my swing is right, I don't really think about who's pitching," Bruce admitted. "Madison, he's an ace in every sense of the word. If he gives you a pitch to hit, you better take advantage. He literally made one mistake today."
Bruce has homered in a career-high five straight games. He became the seventh Red ever to do so, the previous being catcher Devin Mesoraco in 2014.
The subject of serious trade talk with the deadline approaching, Bruce had entered the game just 2-for-17 (both hits singles) in his career against Bumgarner.
That slump went to 2-for-19 after a pair of flyouts in his first two at-bats Wednesday.
Bruce's four homers in 13 at-bats in the series came after he had hit only two previously at AT&T Park in 81 at-bats.
"In all my years watching him," Reds manager Bryan Price observed, "it's the best I've seen him swing the bat."
Straily (6-6) gave up a third-inning homer to Conor Gillaspie, but only two other hits before getting pulled with two outs in the eighth.
He walked one and struck out five in his 90-pitch effort.
"It's disappointing when you have Bum throw the ball the way he did," Giants manager Bruce
Right-hander Raisel Iglesias retired Gregor Blanco on a ground ball with a runner on base to end the eighth, and closer Tony Cingrani pitched around a leadoff single by Angel Pagan in the ninth for his 12th save and the Reds' 14th win in their last 19 visits to San Francisco.
The Reds improved to 8-4 since the All-Star break.
"I can't say enough about the bullpen," Bruce gushed. "They've had a tough time, but they've learned. They've gotten better."
Bumgarner completed eight innings, allowing two runs, only one of which was earned. He gave up five hits, struck out nine and did not walk a batter.
The outing was his 28th straight at home in which he has gone at least five innings and allowed no more than three earned runs. That streak is the longest by a Giants pitcher since 1913.
"It's been a hard time getting him wins," Bochy said of Bumgarner, who has only one win in five July starts despite giving up a total of just seven earned runs. "We're not getting timely hits. When your guy gives up five hits and you can't get a win, it's disappointing."
The All-Star had recorded 19 consecutive scoreless innings at home before the Reds scored an unearned run in the fifth.
After Gillaspie's homer had put the Giants in front, the Reds got even thanks in large part to a Pagan error.
Tucker Barnhart's sacrifice fly scored Brandon Phillips, who had singled with one out, to tie the game. Phillips advanced into scoring position on Eugenio Suarez's liner to left field that was dropped by Pagan for a two-base error.
"We've been through this plenty of times. And we know what it's about," Bumgarner said of the Giants' struggles of late. "Things will turn around for us."
Joey Votto had two of Cincinnati's six hits, extending his hitting streak to 12 straight games since the All-Star break.
Votto's run of nine consecutive games with a walk ended, however, on a 2-for-4 day.
Gillaspie's home run came after Straily had retired the first six Giants. It was his fourth of the season and survived a video review that assured that the ball had cleared the 20-foot-high barrier in right-center field.
Pagan had two hits for the Giants, whose record fell to 2-9 since the All-Star break.
NOTES: Reds RF Jay Bruce became just the second player in the majors this season to homer in five straight games. Baltimore Orioles 1B Chris Davis accomplished the feat from June 7-12. ... The other Reds to homer in five consecutive games were 1B Ted Kluszewski, 1B George Crowe, C Johnny Bench, CF Ken Griffey, Jr., 1B Adam Dunn and C Devin Mesoraco. ... Bruce has hit 25 or more homers in a season six times in his career. Among Reds, only RF Frank Robinson (nine), Bench (eight) and Dunn (seven) have done it more often. ... Reds 1B Joey Votto is hitting .500 (20-for-40) during his 12-game hitting streak. ... Giants pitchers surrendered eight home runs against the Reds, the most they have ever given up in a three-game series at AT&T Park. ... Giants 2B Ramiro Pena was a late scratch from Bruce Bochy's original starting lineup after reporting continuing soreness from the testicular contusion he suffered in Tuesday's game. He pinch-ran for LHP Madison Bumgarner in the eighth inning and then entered the game at second base.