PHILADELPHIA -- The last time, and only time, a Reds pitcher threw a perfect game, the team was wearing those old pullover poly-knit jerseys with beltless pants. It was Tom Browning in 1988.
On '90s night at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday, the Reds were wearing the road version of the uniforms from that era. And Bronson Arroyo flirted with perfection on his way to a 3-2 win over the Phillies.
"He threw a masterful game," Reds manager Dusty Baker said.
The 76-49 Reds are a season-high 27 games over .500 and lead the National League Central by a season-high eight games.
Arroyo, who retired his first 14 in a row and the first 22 out of 23 batters, still wouldn't let himself to get too comfortable. After all, he took a 1-7 record and 7.28 lifetime ERA vs. the Phillies into the game and hadn't beaten them since the 2000 season, when he was a kid with the Pirates.
"This is the type of team you can't really break," Arroyo said. "There are some teams that when you mow through them for six innings, you break their spirit. This is a ballclub that has been in this situation 100 times, and they've got a very veteran team. They make a lot of adjustments, so there is no way you can continue to beat them one way. It's always a real battle to close these guys out in this ballpark."
Arroyo, who worked into the ninth inning, allowed two runs and three hits, with no walks and four strikeouts. He needed only 86 pitches as he improved to a 10-7 record and gave the Reds four 10-game winners for the first time since 2000.
"I can't complain about anything, really," Arroyo said. "My sinker was there. I had command of the strike zone. I got quick outs. It was as good of a ballgame as I could throw."
There was a clean slate for Arroyo, and he worked quickly to retire Philadelphia in order through 4 2/3 innings.
"We didn't hit him very good at all. We weren't really working him at all," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
Things changed briefly when Domonic Brown hit Arroyo's first pitch into the right-field seats for his first home run on the season in the fifth. After that, Arroyo retired eight more in a row until Brown burned him a second time with a one-out double to the wall in right-center field. On top of that, Brown robbed Arroyo of a hit with a nice diving catch in right field to end the top of the second. Brown also lost a ball in the lights in the fourth, which allowed Jay Bruce to triple. Then he threw out Bruce trying to tag up and score on Todd Frazier's fly ball for an inning-ending double play.
"I didn't know a whole lot about him," Arroyo said. "I just tried to throw a 0-0 sinker on the outer half. I thought he would take it, and he hit it out of the park. I went soft away with the breaking ball, and he stayed back on it and hit that nice, too."
As well as Arroyo was pitching, the Reds were also unable to reach the scoreboard early on despite spraying hits vs. Phillies starter Vance Worley. They finally broke through in the fifth inning, when Drew Stubbs and Ryan Ludwick each hit two-out singles to right field for a 2-0 lead.
Against Josh Lindblom in the Reds' eighth, Bruce crushed a 1-1 pitch into the second deck of the right-field seats for his team-leading 26th homer of the season and a 3-1 lead.
"Getting off to such a good start with so many quick outs gave an opportunity to be fresh and go deep in the ballgame," Arroyo said. "Once we had the lead, I felt like I could bury these guys if I needed to."
It proved to be nice insurance as the Phillies predictably threatened in the late innings. After Brown's double in the eighth, Placido Polanco reached on an error by third baseman Scott Rolen. Arroyo escaped when Brian Schneider grounded up the middle, where Zack Cozart flipped to Phillips, who barehanded the ball and turned a pretty 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
With only 83 pitches, Arroyo returned for the ninth. Pinch-hitter Kevin Frandsen reached with an infield single to third base, and Baker decided to summon closer Aroldis Chapman to finish with Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard looming.
"We were going to go with [Chapman] as soon as they got a baserunner on with the guys they had coming up," Baker said. "That was enough, especially when you've got Aroldis Chapman in the bullpen."
Chapman let the run in on Ty Wigginton's broken-bat RBI single but escaped for his 31st save and 23rd in a row to tie a franchise record held by John Franco and Rob Dibble. It gave the Reds back-to-back wins over the Phillies after they had lost the previous seven games in the matchup going back to 2011.
"Tonight is a huge win for us because it gives us the opportunity to at least split no matter what happens [Thursday]," Arroyo said. "We've got our ace [Johnny Cueto] going against theirs [Cole Hamels] right now. It ought to be a fun one."