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Phillips credits Classic to scorching start

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ST. LOUIS -- Brandon Phillips entered Tuesday's action with hits in each of the previous six games. The stretch coincided with the Reds second baseman's switch to the cleanup spot in the lineup.

Phillips batted second on Opening Day and went 0-for-5. He was moved to fourth after Ryan Ludwick tore the labrum in his right shoulder. In the six games that followed, he was 11-for-27 (.407) with two home runs, four doubles, seven RBIs and eight runs scored.

"I was looking forward to doing my job in the two-hole. That didn't last too long," Phillips said. "My job right now is to focus and try to get 100 RBIs. When I found out I was hitting fourth, I set a goal for myself. I don't care about my batting average. I don't care about anything else. My job is to get to 100 RBIs. I've never done it. I came close once when I hit fourth, even though I didn't hit there the whole year."

In 2007, while often batting fourth between Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn, Phillips had 30 homers and 94 RBIs -- both career highs.

What's helped Phillips get so hot early? He credits his six-game experience in the World Baseball Classic last month while playing for Team USA.

"I learned a lot in the WBC and some of the approaches the other guys had," Phillips said. "I think it got me ready in a certain kind of way. I found out really the type of player I could be."

Phillips went 0-for-3 in Tuesday's 5-1 loss to the Cardinals and drove in the club's lone run with a sacrifice fly.

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

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