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08/04/11 1:45 AM ET

Renteria's bat heating up

HOUSTON -- After struggling mightily throughout the first half, Reds shortstop Edgar Renteria has finally caught a prolonged spark at the plate.

Renteria, whose fifth-inning grand slam was integral in Tuesday's 5-1 Reds win over the Astros, came into Wednesday with a six-game hitting streak. During that stretch, he batted .333 (8-for-24). After going 0-for-4 and having his streak snapped on Wednesday, his average stands at .242 overall.

"I feel good. I feel more comfortable at the plate and I'm taking more at-bats," Renteria said. "It's about timing. I've got my timing back. I feel much better."

Before the All-Star break, Renteria was batting only .225. Since the second half started, he is batting .295 (13-for-44), with five doubles and 11 RBIs. Manager Dusty Baker had long repeated he felt that Renteria would heat up when the weather got warmer. It took much longer than expected, but it now seems to be the case.

"I'm just glad we've got him. He's really saved us here the last week or so," Baker said.

Alonso works out at third base

HOUSTON -- Rookie Yonder Alonso's pregame routine with the Reds has recently gotten a little busier.

Starting on Tuesday, Alonso was instructed to start taking ground balls at third base and to work with coach Chris Speier at that position. Alonso has only played left field and first base professionally.

"Maybe I can get in there and, obviously, it will give me more value to the team if I can do that," Alonso said on Wednesday. "Third base was my position growing up. It comes easier than the other two positions."

With Scott Rolen out up to six more weeks after having left shoulder surgery on Wednesday, the Reds are currently using Miguel Cairo and Todd Frazier at third base. Shortstop Paul Janish can also play there. Third base prospect Juan Francisco is currently on Triple-A Louisville's disabled list because he had right knee surgery on July 8.

While at the University of Miami, Alonso was taken as a first baseman by the Reds with the seventh overall pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. Since he's blocked there by Joey Votto, he began playing left field last season.

"When I got to college at Miami, Ryan Braun was at third base. That's why I moved to first base," Alonso said. "I started playing third my sophomore year and Danny Valencia came. He's now with Minnesota. Those were two pretty good third basemen."

Since his big league promotion on July 26 after the Reds traded left fielder Jonny Gomes to Washington to clear a roster spot for him, Alonso hasn't played much. His only start was in left field on Monday vs. the Astros, and he was not in the lineup on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Alonso, 24, entered Wednesday hitting 3-for-8 (.375), after he batted .296 with 12 home runs and 56 RBIs in 91 games for Louisville.

"It's part of the process, I guess. My time will come," Alonso said. "I will pretty much stay with it, work every day and prepare myself for whatever that role may be. If I start, I start."

Alonso felt like his one start was successful, as he made one catch. But he also looked tentative on another fly ball that dropped in front of him. That, he said, was because he feared the ball getting by him had he made a diving attempt.

"I thought I played pretty well," Alonso said. "There were a couple of balls that kind of dunked in there. I caught a fly ball, hit my cutoffs and had good at-bats. It's just one start. It's not like it's the 100th start in the big leagues. I take it for what it is, and try to grasp as much positive as I can and move forward with it to the next start."

Alonso made a pinch-hitting appearance in the ninth inning of Wednesday's game and delivered an RBI single in the Reds' eventual 5-4 loss to the Astros.

Worth noting

• The 9 2/3 innings hitless streak Reds lefty reliever Aroldis Chapman carried into Wednesday is the club's longest single-season streak for a reliever since Chuck McElroy's 11 1/3 innings hitless streak from April 25-May 17, 1994. Over his last eight appearances, Chapman has retired 28 of 29 batters, with a Jose Reyes walk last Thursday being the only blemish.

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.