Brown reconnected with his power stroke Wednesday. But his first home run in 77 at-bats this season was the only trace of offense from a Phillies team baffled by Reds righthander Bronson Arroyo in a 3-2 defeat.
"It was a low-scoring game and Brown had the hits for us," Manuel said of his 24-year-old rightfielder, who accounted for two of the Phillies' four hits. "He was the guy in our lineup that swung the bat good."
Brown was the bright spot in an otherwise dull offensive effort. His homer was his first in a span of 154 at-bats, dating back to June 28, 2011. After carrying a .286 slugging percentage into Sunday after his first 18 games in 2012, Brown has hit .467 (7-for-15) with a home run, three doubles and seven RBI in his last four games.
"It's a cat-and-mouse game," Brown said of pulling the ball more lately because that's where he's being pitched. "I've got to make adjustments like they were doing."
"He hit the ball good," Manuel said. "When you see him hitting the ball out front like that, you're going to see some power numbers."
No productive major league lineup is one-man deep, of course.
Brown's two-out, solo home run in the fifth inning broke up Arroyo's perfect-game bid. But Arroyo, who had retired 14 in a row before Brown's bomb to right, went right back to taming the Phils lineup.
Arroyo allowed two more hits: a pinch-hit, infield single by Kevin Frandsen and a double from Brown.
For the second straight night, Cuban flamethrower Aroldis Chapman finished off the Phils. With the tying run on first base, Chapman got Chase Utley to fly out to center before Ryan Howard lined out on a 101-mph fastball to end the game.
After scoring 20 runs in back-to-back games, the Phillies' offense has gone cold the last 2 nights. It was just mildly surprising that Arroyo was the one responsible for silencing the Phillies bats in their most recent offensive outage.
In 2011, Arroyo faced the Phils twice. He allowed 15 runs on 18 hits. In his last six regular-season starts against the Phillies, Arroyo was 0-6 with a 10.29 ERA.
"I was surprised," Manuel said of Arroyo's dominance. "He was throwing us a lot of off-speed stuff . . . and we were swinging at them. We didn't hit him very good at all. We weren't working him at all."
Only Brown could solve Arroyo on Wednesday night. Brown also did his part to keep the score within reach with two defensive gems - and one head-scratcher - from his position in rightfield.
With the game scoreless, a runner on first and two outs in the second, Arroyo sent a ball to the gap in right-center, destined for extra bases. But Brown made like Superman, taking flight for a full-extension, flying grab to rob Arroyo and end the inning.
Two innings later, the one blemish in Brown's game - a brief lapse of looking lost in the outfield - showed up, only for the rightfielder to quickly clean it up with the aforementioned, jaw-dropping play.
Jay Bruce launched a long, lazy fly ball into rightfield with one out in the fourth. Brown went to the fence and clearly had no idea where the ball was or where it would land. It landed a few feet in front of him, giving Bruce a triple. But two batters later, Brown had no trouble tracking a fly ball from Todd Frazier and then unleashing a laser to home plate to nab Bruce, too.
"If guys are going to try to run on us, and if he can show that arm off, maybe guys will be a little more timid," starting pitcher Vance Worley said. "He's definitely got a good arm out there."
In one motion, Brown caught the ball and fired a fastball from rightfield that had better location than most of Worley's pitches, finding a home in catcher Brian Schneider's glove in warp speed, and nailing Bruce by 10 feet for an inning-ending doubleplay.
"I'm just trying to make a play for Vance right there," said Brown, who lost the first ball in the twilight. "I already messed up a ball. I was trying to get a good throw and keep it low for those guys to handle."
When Worley ran into trouble an inning later, walking the leadoff batter and giving up back-to-back two-out singles, Brown once again showed off his arm but even another pea from rightfield couldn't prevent the Reds from scoring twice.
With Arroyo dealing like an ace, Cincinnati barely needed any more offense. Bruce's solo home run off Josh Lindblom - the third solo shot allowed by a Phils reliever in the last 2 nights - provided the only other run the Reds would score and it ended up being the difference, too.
Contact Ryan Lawrence at firstname.lastname@example.org