Phillips generating spark atop Reds lineup

Phillips generating spark atop Reds lineup

CINCINNATI -- Which factor has most led to Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips' recent hitting tear -- just feeling good at the plate or the move to the leadoff spot?

"It could be a combination of both," Reds manager Dusty Baker said on Tuesday.

Entering Tuesday, Phillips had a 12-game hitting streak in which he was batting .434 (23-for-53) with 10 RBIs and 10 runs. The streak coincides perfectly with his move to the leadoff spot on Aug. 17. The Reds are 8-4 since the lineup shift.

"That's why you like guys in the starting lineup where they are comfortable," Baker said. "Brandon is one of the few guys around that's comfortable anywhere. He knows when to take. He knows when to go the other way. He's learning, really, and getting better."

Phillips came into Tuesday's game batting .299 with 12 home runs and 73 RBIs this season.

Baker pointed to the growth Phillips has demonstrated at the plate since his arrival to the Reds in 2006. For example, he has learned how to avoid wrecking rallies by grounding into double plays. In '07, he had 26 of them. He has hit into 14 double plays so far this season.

"Once you've been around a while and you've had some success and your thought process is correct, that leads to more success," Baker said. "His baseball aptitude and baseball IQ is off the charts. He's a smart player and a hard working player, which makes it even easier to be smart."