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04/14/10 7:04 PM ET

Stiff back scratches Stubbs from lineup

Dickerson takes over at leadoff, center field for Reds

MIAMI -- Reds center fielder Drew Stubbs was out of Wednesday's starting lineup against the Marlins as a precaution for a stiff back.

Chris Dickerson took over the leadoff spot and played center field.

"Stubbs will probably be off today and [Thursday]," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "I could tell the last couple of days that his back has stiffened up on him. I could see the difference in his swing."

Stubbs was 0-for-5 with a walk in Tuesday's 10-8 win in 11 innings. He is 2-for-14 over his last three games. Entering Wednesday, he was batting .200 with one home run and five RBIs.

"It's nothing major, but I think he's giving me a day or two to get it cleared up," Stubbs said. "It's something I could definitely try to play through. [Baker] said, 'This early in the season, there was no point in pushing anything.'"

Stubbs couldn't recall a particular play or game that hurt his back, but felt it start a couple of days ago.

"I woke up this morning and it was a little more so than it had been the past day or two," Stubbs said.

The No. 2 spot in the order also had a different face with Paul Janish getting a start at shortstop in place of Orlando Cabrera, who was given a break. It marked Janish's first start of the season and the second game he's played overall.

Owings posting zeroes in relief

MIAMI -- The role of a long reliever is often thankless and involves trying to keep a rough game from getting out of hand, while preserving the rest of arms in the bullpen. Micah Owings has done much more than that in his two outings.

Owings has five scoreless innings with two hits, no walks and five strikeouts in his two games. He also has two victories this season after he got the win in Tuesday's extra-inning game by pitching clean in the ninth and 10th innings.

"Any time I get the opportunity, I do the best I can to help out," said Owings, who also helped Cincinnati beat the Cubs with three scoreless on April 9. "When I got the ball, I just tried to keep us where we were."

Owings has also done something he didn't do as the fifth starter last season when he struggled. The right-hander has been economical with his pitches. He threw 42 pitches in three innings vs. Chicago and 30 pitches in two innings against Florida.

"You have to be conscious of laboring or throwing too many pitches. A long guy is only as good as he is available," pitching coach Bryan Price said. "It's not a surprise that he's pitched so well, but it's certainly been an important role.

"There is a different temperament coming out of the bullpen. There's no question about it. You're not worried about getting through the lineup three or four times. You don't have to worry or focus so much on pitch sequencing as much as aggression with your best stuff to good locations. That really plays into his demeanor. It doesn't mean he won't start again. Right now, his value fits our club and our needs."

Sacrifice bunts helping out in wins

MIAMI -- The Reds entered Wednesday ranked seventh in the National League with four sacrifice hits, but two of them loomed large in the last two wins. On Tuesday in the 10th inning, Brandon Phillips' perfect sacrifice bunt moved Joey Votto into scoring position and Votto came home on next batter Scott Rolen's RBI single.

In the 11th inning Wednesday, it was Laynce Nix who perfectly executed a bunt to the between the first-base line and mound. It moved pinch-runner Chris Dickerson to second base and Dickerson later scored the go-ahead run on a Votto single.

"We work on it, big time," Baker said. "Everybody works on it. It starts with working and starts with concentrating and wanting to be successful."

Balentien sent to Minors, Miles released

MIAMI -- Designated for assignment by the Reds 10 days ago and having cleared waivers, infielder Aaron Miles was released and outfielder Wladimir Balentien was sent outright to Triple-A Louisville.

Miles, who was acquired in the Feb. 1 trade that sent Adam Rosales and Willy Taveras to the A's, will still receive his full $2.7 million salary this season.

Worth noting

MIAMI -- With the Astros off to a 0-7 start entering Wednesday, Baker cringed in his office. "Boy, that's a manager's nightmare at the beginning of every season. I don't wish that on my worst enemy," Baker said. ... The last time the Reds won their first three road games of a season was 1996.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.