Phillips a catalyst for Reds in leadoff spot

Phillips a catalyst for Reds in leadoff spot

PHILADELPHIA -- The Reds certainly didn't have the series they wanted in Philadelphia by dropping the first two games with walk-off losses after blowing leads. But a big reason they left town in a better mood on Thursday night was the strong night and great series from second baseman Brandon Phillips.

In a 6-4 Reds victory over the Phillies, Phillips was 3-for-5 with two RBIs. He began the game with a single to right field and scored the first run; hit a game-tying RBI double off the left-field wall in the fifth inning and added an opposite-field single to right field in the sixth.

That provided what would be key insurance for Cincinnati to hold off Philadelphia late.

Over the three-game series, Phillips was 8-for-15 with three doubles, four RBIs, four runs scored and two stolen bases. He has four consecutive multi-hit games.

"He's been great," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He's had a really good start to the season. It hasn't gone unnoticed that he's just done a great job not just swinging the bat and defensively, but also getting on base."

After he snapped a 0-for-18 stretch on Sunday, Phillips has four straight multi-hit games that has raised his average to .311 with three home runs and 25 RBIs.

Phillips' RBI double

"It was nice. Phillips had an outstanding [series]," said Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani, who earned the victory by pitching into the eighth inning. "Even his outs were hard outs. It's good to see he was swinging the bat well."

The Reds snapped a nine-game road losing streak with the win, the last victory away from Cincinnati came on May 9. However, Phillips has been a road warrior of sorts this season, batting .385 (40-for-104).

"It's fun to watch, him hitting the ball the other way. It's crazy," third baseman Todd Frazier said. "He's hitting that first pitch a lot. They're going to throw it over and he's ready to go. That's good to see from our leadoff guy getting on base so me and [Joey Votto] and [Jay Bruce] and everybody can start attacking as well."

Amid his strong hitting, Phillips has spent the past several weeks dealing with a nagging turf toe injury on his left foot. It caused him to miss a few games, including three starts in a row from May 26-29.

Price has used Phillips more lately from the leadoff spot, with Billy Hamilton batting ninth. He believes it's helped the team offensively.

"I asked him to step in and be a leadoff man and he handled that job well, and put Billy in a position where he's done some great things in the nine-hole," Price said. "It gives us a chance for our pitchers to bunt and get guys in scoring position for Billy. That's something [Phillips] did very well last year, which was hitting with runners in scoring position."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.