WASHINGTON -- Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips stole two bases on Wednesday in a very unorthodox fashion.
During the fourth inning of a 7-2 loss to the Nationals, Phillips was on first base when left-handed hitter Adam Dunn came to the plate.
Nationals first baseman Dmitri Young held Phillips on the base while the rest of the defense shifted over one position, leaving third baseman Ryan Zimmerman in the position normally occupied by the shortstop.
Phillips noticed this formation often, and had been plotting to steal two bases at just the right opportunity.
"It's been in my mind to do it at home," he said. "But today I just saw another opportunity. Zimmerman was at second, and nobody was at third, so I just started running."
Phillips took off to steal second base, which he did without a throw from the Nationals. He then turned toward third and hustled toward the base before the Nationals could adjust to what was happening.
Zimmerman tried to sprint over and tag Phillips out, but Zimmerman was several steps behind him, giving Phillips two bases on the play.
Nationals defenders were impressed by the play, and said that it was just something that happened when the defense was shifted like it was.
It was new territory for official scorer Ben Trittipoe, who had to call the Elias Sports Bureau for clarification before awarding Phillips with two stolen bases.
Reds manager Pete Mackanin said it was a great play, because the team was down 7-0 at the time.
"We needed some kind of spark, and I thought it was great," he said.
"I thought maybe that would give us some kind of a spark."
On the play, Phillips became the first Reds second baseman to get 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in the same season since Joe Morgan in 1977.
Michael Phillips is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.