© 2011 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

04/07/11 5:56 PM ET

Janish off to a strong start with the bat

CINCINNATI -- There were almost too many strong offensive performances to pick from during the Reds' dynamic first week of the season.

But shortstop Paul Janish really stood out, partially because he's the eighth hitter and more known for his defense.

"Most everybody else on the field has a little more of a track record," Janish said on Thursday. "For me, it's more important to get off to a good start -- for myself, and just as much for the [coaching] staff and everybody else to relax a little bit and show them they made the right decision."

Janish entered the day batting .444 (8-for-18) with three RBIs and had hit safely in all of his games played. He had only one strikeout.

"He's been working hard and comes out early," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "We knew he could pick it. That wasn't a secret. We thought he would hit, especially if he got a lot of reps. He's keeping the ball out of the air. He's in a very tough position to hit in, the eighth spot. He's a smart young man. He has a pretty good idea what he's doing out there on the field, period."

Janish did not start on Thursday vs. the Astros with Edgar Renteria getting into the lineup. Renteria came in batting .425 (17-for-40) lifetime vs. Astros starter Brett Myers, and he delivered an RBI double in the second inning.

"I still have to monitor him a little bit, make sure he stays strong through the course of the year," Baker said. "That's why we love having Renteria."

Renteria was signed as a free agent over the winter, in part to offer insurance behind Janish. That obviously hasn't been a worry since the season started.

Janish earned the everyday job after he batted .260 and played great in the field while backing up Orlando Cabrera last season. He played well during Spring Training, batting .286 in 20 games.

"I felt good towards the end of camp coming into the season," Janish said. "I wasn't all that concerned with the way I felt. I felt as good as I could feel."

LeCure can't avoid opposing No. 1 starters

CINCINNATI -- Every time Sam LeCure gets a start for the Reds, he seems to be opposed by a No. 1-type starter.

It happened four straight times last season when he faced Chris Carpenter, Matt Cain, Zack Greinke and Felix Hernandez. It happened in two spring starts against Carlos Zambrano and Tim Lincecum. And it happened Thursday when he faced Astros No. 1 starter Brett Myers.

"I keep telling myself, 'One of these days ...'" LeCure said.

LeCure more than held his own for a five-inning no-decision, a game the Reds lost, 3-2. He allowed two earned runs and three hits with two walks and six strikeouts. Both runs scored on groundouts. LeCure, who did not join the rotation until near the end of camp and wasn't totally stretched out, threw 84 pitches.

"I was getting tired towards the end," LeCure said. "I've got trust in [manager] Dusty [Baker] and [pitching coach] Bryan [Price] that they're going to do the right thing by me and protect me in that regard. I was just going to give it all I had until they thought it was time."

Leading off the Houston fourth inning, Carlos Lee skied a long drive to the warning track in right-center field. Drew Stubbs and Jay Bruce converged before Stubbs yielded to avoid a collision. The ball missed Bruce's outstretched glove near the wall for a triple. Lee scored on Brett Wallace's routine groundout to shortstop.

"There were a couple of times I got a little bit complacent out there, and I think that cost us," LeCure said. "The first pitch to Lee that he hit into the gap was a get-me-over fastball. I didn't have a whole lot behind it. He took advantage and did what good hitters do. A couple of walks was me being kind of lazy."

Reds pick up where they left off defensively

CINCINNATI -- Entering Thursday's series finale, the Reds had committed only one error, made by left fielder Jonny Gomes on Opening Day.

Contrast that with the struggling Astros, who committed five errors in Wednesday's game alone during a 12-4 defeat. Reds manager Dusty Baker values defense and recognizes it's not the glamour part of the game.

"Everybody sees hitting and they only judge a good ballplayer if he can hit," Baker said on Thursday. "If you're going to play winning baseball, you have to catch the ball. Everybody knew the Big Red Machine, but they didn't know it was really the Big Red Vacuum out there as much as anything. [Johnny] Bench, Pete [Rose] and Joe [Morgan] had Gold [Gloves]. [Dave] Concepcion had gold. I know [Cesar] Geronimo had gold."

Last season, the Reds set a club record for fewest errors with 72. They were second in the National League in fielding percentage.

"Defense is pride and defense is work. Hitting is fun," Baker said. "If you're going to play winning baseball, you have to catch the ball. This game is designed for 27 outs, not 29 and not 30. Our guys work on it and we have some instructors that can teach it."

Worth noting

The Reds will be in Arizona for a three-game series this weekend, but manager Dusty Baker had no plans on visiting the team's player development complex to see injured pitchers like Johnny Cueto or Jose Arredondo throw. "They can handle it. I will get reports," Baker said. "We have work to do at [Chase Field], too. Days are short when the games start." ... Thursday marked the five-year anniversary of the trade that brought second baseman Brandon Phillips to the Reds from the Indians. Phillips was acquired on April 7, 2006, for Minor League pitcher Jeff Stevens. ... The Reds held a moment of silence for former pitching coach Larry Shepard, who died Wednesday at the age of 92. Shepard was a coach for the Big Red Machine teams from 1970-78.

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.