This season, most of the damage he’s doing in the division showdowns is coming at the plate.
Phillips and the Reds will try to win back-to-back games for the first time in a month while winning their fifth straight at home over the Cardinals on Saturday night.
Phillips has been at the center of the increased tension between Cincinnati (46-47) and St. Louis (49-44) since he called the Cardinals whiners and sparked a brawl last year.
His productivity against St. Louis this year has been even more damaging. Phillips is hitting .317 with three homers and 11 RBIs against the Cardinals this season. On Friday, he hit a two-out, two-run walkoff homer in a 6-5 victory.
Given the circumstances, the second baseman ranked it as his most memorable homer.
“Biggest? Let me go ahead and say yes,” Phillips said. “That’s the biggest one. We’re playing the Cardinals. That’s a great situation for me getting that home run.”
St. Louis dropped to 4-6 against Cincinnati in 2011, losing all four road games. The Cardinals have lost four of six overall and are 11-18 since June 10.
“It was disappointing,” manager Tony La Russa said. “We put a lot of spirit and energy into this one and just got beat.”
La Russa’s club will try to bounce back and prevent Cincinnati from winning two straight for the first time since June 13-15. The Cardinals dropped into a tie with Pittsburgh for first place in the division with Friday’s defeat.
They’ll hand the ball to Chris Carpenter (4-7, 3.85 ERA), who hopes for better results in his second start this season at Great American Ball Park.
The right-hander has allowed two runs over 14 innings in two home starts this season against the Reds, but was tagged for eight runs in 6 1-3 innings of a 9-7 loss at Cincinnati on May 15.
Carpenter is 13-4 with a 2.29 ERA in 21 starts against the Reds.
He wasn’t sharp his last time out, giving up five runs and nine hits over six innings before the Cardinals rallied for a 7-6 victory over Arizona on July 9.
Brandon Phillips probably isn’t too happy about facing Carpenter, having batted .159 against him, including 1 for 10 this year. Joey Votto(notes), who had two hits Friday and is batting .405 the last 10 games, is hitting .414 against Carpenter with two home runs.
Arroyo posted a 9.35 ERA over his last three starts, but managed to split two decisions during that span. He gave up five runs in 6 1-3 innings of a 9-8, 13-inning win over the Cardinals on July 6.
Arroyo has surrendered a major league-high 25 home runs, eight in his last three starts.