Phillips in groove with lumber at opportune time

Phillips in groove with lumber at opportune time

CHICAGO -- Just how good are things going at the plate lately for Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips?

Well, he picked up key base hits in the eighth and ninth innings of Saturday's 4-2 win over the Cubs, despite barely seeing the ball after it left the pitcher's hand because of the late afternoon shadows at Wrigley Field.

His single in the eighth was big, as it came with the Reds trailing, 2-1, and Drew Stubbs on second base with no outs. Phillips, who had already doubled and scored Cincinnati's first run, appeared to just throw his bat out at the ball and flick it into the outfield.

He and Stubbs then scored on Ryan Ludwick's double into left field to put the Reds on top, 3-2, and clear the path to a comeback victory.

"I don't know how I did it, but I did it," said Phillips, who was 8-for-15 with three doubles and four runs scored in the first three games of this series. "I was just going out there trying to do my job and move [Stubbs] over, but I was like, 'Man, I cannot see the ball.'

"I couldn't see it. I tried to bunt it and I couldn't bunt it, so I was like, 'Let me just touch the ball and try to put it in play and see if something happens.' I ended up getting on base with a base hit, and it was very surprising."

In the ninth, Phillips did virtually the same thing for another single off Cubs reliever Alberto Cabrera.

Whatever approach Phillips has taken of late has worked. The second baseman had struggled a little following a five-game absence because of a calf strain. Phillips said that one at-bat against Brewers reliever John Axford in Milwaukee last week really helped him get his stroke back. Now, he's feeling good at the plate.

"I got my rhythm back," Phillips said. "It was all about timing. It was all about getting my timing back. I felt good again and felt like my timing was back to normal, and hopefully I can keep on swinging the bat like I've been doing."

Since the All-Star break, Phillips has been red-hot with the lumber, hitting .362 entering Sunday, with nine doubles, three home runs and 15 RBIs.