A case of the flu going through Cincinnati’s clubhouse left the Reds without two of the top bats in their lineup. Despite being short-handed, the offense hasn’t seemed to skip a beat.
The Reds, who look to win three in a row for the first time in nearly four weeks, expect to get a little bit closer to full strength with the return of cleanup hitter Brandon Phillips(notes) for Saturday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Cincinnati (16-13) defeated the Cardinals 6-4 in Friday’s opener to win its second game in a row without its Nos. 3 and 4 hitters.
First baseman Joey Votto(notes), who leads the team in batting (.370) and RBIs (23), and Phillips, who is second on the team in home runs (five) and RBIs (18), were sidelined for the second straight game with the flu.
Phillips, who is 12 for 33 (.364) with four home runs and 12 RBIs in his last eight games, is expected to be back Saturday.
“Brandon is getting better. He’s better than Joey,” Reds manager Dusty Baker told the team’s official Web site.
Without its top run producers, Jerry Hairston Jr.(notes) led Cincinnati’s offense with a pair of run-scoring hits Friday. The Reds won for the sixth time in nine games and are trying to win three in a row for the first time since April 12-14.
The Cardinals (19-11), meanwhile, have dropped four of six after winning nine of their previous 11.
St. Louis is sixth in the majors in runs (161), but managed just two hits through the first six innings Friday.
The reigning NL MVP was 2 for 12 with a solo homer last season against Saturday’s scheduled starter Aaron Harang(notes) (2-3, 3.00 ERA), who gave up two runs and seven hits with nine strikeouts in seven innings of Monday’s 3-2, 14-inning loss to Florida.
Harang has pitched well at times this season but has struggled with his consistency. In his four solid outings, Harang’s allowed four runs in 28 innings, but in his two poor starts, he’s yielded 11 runs in 11 innings.
The right-hander had similar results against St. Louis last season. In his lone win versus the Cardinals in 2008, Harang threw a six-hit shutout, but in his three losses against them, he was tagged for 17 runs in 14 1-3 innings.
After allowing nine runs in 32 innings in his five April starts, Lohse was tagged for six runs and seven hits in a season-low 4 1-3 innings of a 6-1 loss to Philadelphia on Monday.
Lohse struggled after getting hit by a pitch in his left elbow in the third. The right-hander said that arm was numb for much of the remainder of his outing. He had given up just one home run in his first five starts but served up a grand slam to Ryan Howard(notes) and a two-run homer to Jayson Werth(notes).
“I was pretty sore, but that’s not an excuse,” Lohse said. “I left a couple of balls right where the game plan was to not put those pitches.”
Lohse, who pitched for Cincinnati in 2006-07, went 1-1 with a 3.55 ERA in two starts against his former team last season.