CINCINNATI -- Reds manager Dusty Baker will continue to tinker with lineups while at the ballpark, and toss and turn while sleeping away from it, until one fundamental problem is solved.How do the Reds get the big run-producing hits when they need them? "We'll score one [one] day and eight the next, and we have a four-run average, but that's not really an average, typically," Baker said Sunday, prior to a 3-1 win over the Cardinals. "We have plenty of opportunities." The Reds got a clutch hit when they needed it on Sunday, when Ryan Hanigan singled with one out in the seventh inning and Miguel Cairo on third. Still, Cincinnati went hitless in its first seven chances with runners in scoring position and was 1-for-8 in the game. The problem has been magnified with the bases loaded. Combined over the previous two games against the Cardinals, the Reds had three bases-loaded chances with one out or less. They came up empty all three times. The Reds finished the weekend ranked 15th out 16 of National League teams with a .189 average when hitting with the bases loaded.
"I didn't want to know," Baker said.Two-out hitting has been a sore spot, as well, as the Reds finished the day batting .210 with runners in scoring position and two outs.
"A lot of it has to do with being relaxed in that situation," Baker said. "Especially some of our younger guys, you see them grinding instead of relaxing and picking them up. You're learning through that. It's not something that just comes overnight. You realize that pitcher is not just going to throw the ball down there and let you knock fire from it. His job is to stop that guy from crossing the plate."The Reds were ranked fifth in the NL in overall hitting with runners in scoring position (.262), but that did little to console the manager. And although the advantage was meager, they finished Sunday as the NL leader in runs scored (447), just three ahead of St. Louis. "Can we be better?" said Baker. "Who are you comparing yourself to? To me, you compare yourself to yourself."
Cozart's first homer comes off familiar face
CINCINNATI -- Rookie shortstop Zack Cozart hasn't stopped hitting for the Reds since his callup from Triple-A Louisville.Until the eighth inning on Sunday, none of his hits were for extra bases, though. His first non-single was a leadoff solo home run in the Reds' 3-1 win over the Cardinals. On a 3-2 pitch from reliever Lance Lynn, Cozart deposited it into the left-field seats for a 373-foot long ball. "A lot of guys were joking around that I'm a singles hitter, but I kind of proved them wrong," Cozart joked. There was a connection with the pitcher, too, since Lynn was Cozart's teammate at the University of Mississippi. "That's one of my good buddies on the mound that I was facing," Cozart said. "He's obviously a good pitcher, but I think he's pretty mad at me right now." The Reds were no doubt elated, because the extra run was critical. In the top of the ninth, they had mashers Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman due up. "That was a huge insurance run," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. Cozart, who had a sixth-inning single and scored on a wild pitch, has begun his big league career with a six-game hitting streak. That's one away from Adam Dunn's 2001 Reds record to start a big league career. Cozart is batting .400 (10-for-25) with five runs scored.
Pair of injured hurlers show progress
CINCINNATI -- Reds right-handed reliever Jose Arredondo, who is on the 15-day DL with a strained right forearm (retroactive to July 7) long tossed and then threw a side bullpen session on Sunday.Head trainer Paul Lessard estimated that Arredondo threw at about 80 percent intensity. "He was comfortable, that's what I was looking for," Lessard said. "He's almost there." Left-hander Matt Maloney began a Minor League rehab assignment on Saturday by pitching for the Rookie League Arizona League Reds in Goodyear. Maloney, who is on the 60-day disabled list with a broken rib, pitched two scoreless innings with two hits and two strikeouts. Of his 20 pitches, 17 were strikes.
Hitting issues have continued for shortstop Paul Janish since he was optioned to Triple-A Louisville by the Reds on July 7. Janish is off to a 1-for-22 start (.045) with Louisville. Going into Sunday, the Reds had sold out six of their previous eight games at Great American Ball Park. The club has a 5-5 record playing at home before a sellout crowd.