Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 7/24/12
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, with Ludwick and Frazier each scoring two runs and driving in two. "We got some big hits tonight," manager Dusty Baker said. "(The Astros') record isn't good right now but they never quit." Houston (34-63) has dropped seven in a row by a 58-22 margin and 20 of 22 overall. The Astros have compiled an 8.37 ERA during their losing streak. Batting .469 in his last 10 games versus Cincinnati, Chris Johnson matched a career best with four hits Monday. "We're trying not to believe in personal goals around here and just trying to turn this thing around, so I'd rather take an 0-for for a win," he said. While little has gone the Astros' way, Lucas Harrell (7-7, 4.24 ERA) has proven to be a rare bright spot. The right-hander has allowed one or zero runs in four of his last five outings, over which he's gone 1-2 despite a 2.18 ERA. Harrell suffered a hard-luck loss Thursday, allowing four hits and striking out six over seven innings in a 1-0 loss at San Diego. "Lucas was absolutely outstanding," manager Brad Mills told the team's official website. " ... What a great job he did. He's been doing a good job for us all year and he continues to do a good job." Harrell has been especially good at home, going 5-1 with a 1.99 ERA over seven starts while holding opponents to a .222 average. In his last start at Minute Maid Park, Harrell threw a six-hitter in a 1-0 victory over San Diego on June 27 for his first shutout and complete game. Harrell, though, was knocked around in his only career start against the Reds, yielding six runs and nine hits over six innings in a 6-0 road loss April 28. Cincinnati counters with Mike Leake (3-6, 4.25), who was tagged for a season worst-tying six runs over 5 1-3 innings Thursday but didn't factor in the decision of a 7-6 victory over Arizona. Leake's 11 hits allowed matched a career high. While Leake has run into some trouble at home, he's recently pitched well on the road. The right-hander has gone 2-1 with a 1.50 ERA over his last four starts in opposing ballparks - including a 4-1 victory at Houston on June 1 in which he allowed one run and struck out a season-high seven in seven innings. Leake is 2-1 with a 2.66 ERA over three career road starts against the Astros.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Sanu: Halftime show played role in Super Bowl collapse

Report: Rams, Clippers discussing NBA venue in Inglewood

Terrence Jones reportedly interested in joining Celtics

LeBron reverses course, says he ‘always felt good’ about Cavs

Report: Ole Miss tried to implicate Mississippi State in football scandal

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jamaal Charles could be on the roster bubble

Jimmy Butler on state of Bulls: ‘I just want to win at all costs’

Report: Giants will be ‘aggressive’ in trying to sign Jason Pierre-Paul

Report: Porzingis avoided ligament damage in ankle

Brooks Koepka meltdown includes whiff, stomping head off driver

Report: 49ers could talk trade for QB at the NFL Scouting Combine

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Box Score 2/24: A night of NBA disrespect

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher who has recorded 10 or more shutouts in a single season

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker