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09/16/10 5:41 PM ET

Stubbs catching fire down stretch

CINCINNATI -- Reds center fielder Drew Stubbs has seen his production jump and plummet this season in trends more volatile than the fickle stock market. Right now, at the most important time of the season, the Reds are bullish on his numbers.

Stubbs, who hit a two-run homer (his 18th) in Wednesday's win over Arizona, is batting .389 (14-for-36) in his last 10 games and .316 (37-for-117) over his last 32 starts.

"I think regardless of how the season goes overall, what everybody remembers is how it's finished," Stubbs said Thursday morning. "I've had my ups and downs throughout the year. I'm taking these last couple of weeks and month of the season to key in and try to finish on a positive note. Hopefully, it will help us carry some momentum into the postseason."

As recently as early August, Stubbs' batting average had dipped to .228 amid speculation he might get sent down. But he's been dependable at driving in runs with 69 RBIs mostly from the seventh spot, and he has 25 steals. His speed had made his defensive range indispensable.

"I've had my struggles at different levels of the Minor Leagues here and there and in college," Stubbs said. "But this has definitely been the most trying year for me. Obviously, in the grand scheme of things, you're more under the microscope at this level. Going through it, it's made me stronger and I've learned a lot from it. It will ultimately help me become a better player."

Phillips not in starting lineup Thursday

CINCINNATI -- Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips was given a rare break from the starting lineup on Thursday vs. the D-backs.

Phillips was mired in a 1-for-24 skid, and was batting .127 (7-for-55) in 13 games since being drilled by a fastball on his right hand Aug. 25 at San Francisco.

"He's been struggling. He needs it," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "It's more of a mental break than anything. I know his hand has been bothering him. His focus and concentration -- perhaps there's a little fatigue in there. This time of year, you can get some mental fatigue."

Paul Janish started at second base in place of Phillips against Arizona.

Phillips was also not rewarded for some nice contact. He hit the ball hard during his first three at-bats on Wednesday, but all were right at somebody in the field. Baker said Phillips would be back in the lineup Friday when the Reds face tough Astros lefty Wandy Rodriguez.

Worth noting

Starting pitcher Homer Bailey, who lasted only three innings in Wednesday's outing because of dizziness, hadn't made much improvement Thursday. "I'm not OK, but a little better," Bailey said. His next scheduled start is on Monday at Milwaukee. ... Jim Edmonds pinch-hit for Bill Bray in the seventh inning Thursday and flied out to right field. It was Edmonds' first game since Aug. 23 because he's been out with a torn right oblique. Manager Dusty Baker said Edmonds could get a start in either Houston or Milwaukee during the upcoming road trip. ... Reliever Jared Burton, recalled from Triple-A Louisville, made his 2010 Reds debut with a scoreless ninth inning.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com Read his blog, Mark My Word and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.