Reds offense in an all-around slump

Reds offense in an all-around slump

SAN DIEGO -- Lately among the Reds, the offensive struggles haven't been limited to the season-long issue of not hitting well with runners in scoring position. They're not getting enough guys on base, period.

In the three straight losses where they scored one run in each game, Cincinnati batters were hitting a combined .170 (16-for-94).

And when Reds are getting on base, sometimes they're getting erased. That happened to second baseman Brandon Phillips in Thursday's 2-1 loss to the Padres. Phillips owned up to his two baserunning mistakes in the game, including one in the ninth inning where he was picked off of first base by Huston Street as he flinched towards second base.

"I messed up twice lately," Phillips said Friday. "We know we haven't been scoring runs lately so we've been trying to be more aggressive on the bases to make things happen. In San Francisco, we had the bases loaded and weren't running the bases properly. You have to get a big secondary [lead] to score on base hits, especially on balls down.

"Our baserunning -- my baserunning -- hasn't been on par. When people get on base, we come through a majority of the time, lately. A majority of the time, we're not getting on base."

Reds manager Dusty Baker agreed that Phillips was trying too hard to make something happen.

"He's trying to get a mega jump in a situation where that's not your job," Baker said. "In that situation of a 3-2 count, you're more interested in staying out of the double play than you are for a stolen base. If the guy strikes out, you have to get a good-enough jump where you hope to steal the base. The primary job is to stay out of the double play if he hits the ball, especially on the ground. You don't see many 3-2 pickoffs. You're trying to do something. Sometimes, more is worse."

Baker has been looking at ways to plug the leaks that have developed throughout his underperforming lineup. He wouldn't mind moving Phillips back to the leadoff spot from the fourth spot, but that springs a leak to find a cleanup hitter.

"I might put [Ryan] Ludwick in that situation, maybe," Baker said. "Brandon has been our second most productive hitter with runners in scoring position. You've have to replace that too. Behind Joey [Votto], he is picking the runners up better than anybody else we have."

Phillips moved from leadoff to fourth earlier in the season when Scott Rolen was struggling. Phillips has long been open about his preference to bat first in the order.

Cincinnati is ranked 11th in the National League with a .238 average with runners in scoring position. Take away Votto's .364 average and Phillips' .294 average in those situations, and the Reds would be in dire straits.

"We have some other guys that will hopefully pick it up here in the second half," Baker said. "They're struggling in that department."