The surging Cincinnati Reds are clicking on all cylinders despite Joey Votto's absence.
Brandon Phillips is a big reason why.
Cincinnati tries to extend its winning streak to a season best-tying six for the fourth time this year Tuesday night in the second of three with the major league-worst Houston Astros.
The NL Central-leading Reds (56-40) lost Votto to a knee injury just over a week ago but haven't missed a beat. Cincinnati has won 12 of 14 despite playing its last eight games without the 2010 NL MVP.
The Reds have proven plenty potent during their five-game winning streak, outscoring opponents 26-13 while batting .290 - including .350 (14 for 40) with runners in scoring position.
Much of that can be attributed to Phillips. The two-time All-Star is batting .429 with two homers, 11 runs scored and 11 RBIs in his last 12 games. He's spent the last seven hitting third in the lineup - Votto's usual spot.
Phillips, Ryan Ludwick and Todd Frazier each went 3 for 6 in Monday's 8-3 win,...