The Reds' offense has been getting better lately. But it has been doing so with little help from the fourth spot.
After Sunday's 5-0 victory over the Pirates, the cleanup hitters are batting .171 with 10 RBI. They are last in the National League in average, slugging percentage and RBI.
A quick fix would to move Jay Bruce to the spot, but manager Dusty Baker has no plans to do so.
"No, because I want to break up them lefties," Baker said. "Plus, Jay's hitting well and hitting home runs, but he's still got to improve on driving in runs himself."
Bruce hit .243 in 63 games as the No. 4 hitter last year.
Teams have intentionally walked third hitter Joey Votto six times. The Reds are 0-for-6 in the next at-bat with three strikeouts and a double play.
Brandon Phillips is hitting fourth for the time being. He is in a 2-for-24 skid after going 0-for-4 Sunday. Phillips missed time and played through a left hamstring strain.
"His leg is better now," Baker said. "Sometimes you struggle. There's no alibi for it. We know for sure he's going to hit. Remember me saying when you start the season hurt, you're playing catch-up. He hasn't caught up yet.
NOTES, QUOTESPhillips is playing catch-up
--2B Brandon Phillips went 0-for-4 Sunday and has just two hits in his last 24 at-bats. He is hitting .215. Manager Dusty Baker said that's not completely due to the strained left hamstring Phillips has dealt with. "His leg is better now," Baker said. "Sometimes you struggle. There's no alibi for it. We know for sure he's going to hit. Remember me saying when you start the season hurt, you're playing catch-up. He hasn't caught up yet."
--RHP J.J. Hoover pitched two-thirds of an inning Sunday, striking out two. But it was a memorable outing. Hoover is from Elizabeth, Pa., 13 miles from Pittsburgh. "It was awesome," he said.
--RF Jay Bruce singled Sunday to extend his hitting streak to nine games. That's a team high. Bruce has five home runs and nine RBI during the streak.
--INF Miguel Cairo completed his three-game rehab assignment with Single-A Dayton. Cairo went 0-for-10 in the three games. The plan was for him to join the club Monday in Milwaukee. "I've got to find out (Sunday)," Baker said.
--3B Scott Rolen tied Tony Perez for 49th on the all-time doubles list Friday with his 505th double. Next is Babe Ruth at 506. "I'd like to give you a stoic interview and say it's no big deal," Rolen said. "But when you look at the list, you go, 'Oh man.'"
BY THE NUMBERS: 17 -- That's how many hitters Reds pitchers struck out Sunday, tying a club record for a nine-inning game.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "That was a gutsy performance. I kept calling him Michael Jordan all day from that playoff game (Jordan played with the flu). He said, 'Skip, I'm fine.' He gave us all he had." -- Manager Dusty Baker on Mat Latos' performance Sunday (six shutout innings) while feeling ill.
ROSTER REPORTMEDICAL WATCH:
--LHP Bill Bray (strained left groin) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 19. He began a rehab assignment with Class AAA Louisville on April 29, but he moved back to extended spring training in Goodyear, Ariz., after one outing. He pitched an extended spring game May 4.
--INF Miguel Cairo (strained left hamstring) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 15. He spent three days on a rehab assignment with low-A Dayton (Ohio). Cairo went 0-for-10 at the plate but felt no ill effects from the injury. It was unclear whether Cairo would join the team in Milwaukee as planned.
--RHP Nick Masset (right shoulder inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26. He had an MRI of his arm April 25, and he could be cleared to throw in early May.
--RHP Ryan Madson (Tommy John surgery in April 2012) went on the 60-day disabled list April 4. He is out for the season.