Ruf providing power in limited opportunities

Phillies left fielder hits solo shot in loss to Cardinals

Ruf providing power in limited opportunities

ST. LOUIS -- The Phillies are desperate for power, so they appreciated Darin Ruf's at-bat in the third inning Thursday at Busch Stadium.

He crushed a solo home run to left-center field in a 9-3 loss to the Cardinals.

Ruf's five extra-base hits are tied with Jeff Francoeur and Ben Revere for third on the team, despite finishing a distant ninth in plate appearances. Ruf has 44 plate appearances. That is 20 fewer than Carlos Ruiz, who is eighth on the list, and eight more than Grady Sizemore, who is 10th on the list.

"Trying to keep the routine the same, whether I'm playing or not playing," Ruf said about staying sharp at the plate. "When I'm not I obviously sneak down there [to the batting cage] to get ready in case I have to have an at-bat."

Ruf started four consecutive games April 15-18, but he went 2-for-14 with one double, one RBI, one walk and six strikeouts. He has started just twice since, including just once since April 23. He started in left field Thursday and hit third.

Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said earlier in April that he thinks Ruf could play in right field, although general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. disagreed. Phillies right fielders entered the afternoon with a .473 OPS, which ranked 29th in the Majors.

Despite hitting .179 (7-for-39), Ruf has a .660 OPS this season and a .792 OPS in his career.

"I'll continue to try to see some guys in different spots and see who's getting hot and also mix and match a little bit," Sandberg said.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone. Follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.