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08/20/11 9:52 PM ET

Phillips producing from leadoff spot

PITTSBURGH -- The sample size is small, but the production has been big. So far, the move of Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips to the leadoff spot in the lineup is working well.

Phillips was 3-for-4 in Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Pirates, which made him 10-for-18 in four games since he moved to the top of the lineup. In Friday's wild 11-8 win over the Pirates, he was 3-for-5 with four RBIs, including a three-run home run.

"When I was hitting fourth, my No. 1 goal was to drive guys in. I wasn't worried about my average or anything -- just RBIs," Phillips said. "I'm glad they're giving me a chance to get something going for the team."

Phillips' two runs on Saturday gave him three since he began leading off on Wednesday -- the other came on his own homer -- which underscores the Reds' trouble driving in runs lately. Phillips went to manager Dusty Baker's office on Tuesday night and asked to lead off to help create more scoring chances.

"I'm just glad Dusty listened to me and gave me a chance to do what I can do at the top of the lineup," Phillips said. "I feel like I can have all my tools hitting leadoff, or the second spot, and can really be myself."

Ironically, Phillips is still driving in runs the last few games.

"You can also get RBIs in the leadoff spot. Pitchers bunt the guy over, and we can have a guy in scoring position," he said. "Hit a double or hit a single and get an RBI. If they're not on base, I try to get on base for the big guys in the middle of the lineup."

Hanigan's shoulder healthy -- and it shows

PITTSBURGH -- Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan hasn't just gotten hot at the plate, he's gotten historically hot.

Hanigan was hitless in two plate appearances after entering a 5-3 loss to the Pirates on Saturday as a pinch-hitter, but coming into the day, he was 8-for-12 with three home runs and eight RBIs over his previous three games.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last Reds player to have at least eight hits and eight runs batted in over three straight games -- all as a catcher -- was Johnny Bench in 1972.

It's even more encouraging because Hanigan batted .227 with only one RBI in July. There was a reason behind that. On July 8 at Milwaukee, he suffered a sore left shoulder when Nyjer Morgan slammed into him to score during a nasty home-plate collision.

"That collision really hurt his mobility in his shoulder, badly," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He's really been nursing that for a while. He was even close to maybe going on the DL 10 days ago, but he's getting better. This is what pros and tough guys do -- they find a way to adjust things to be able to play."

Hanigan's overall batting average has increased from .244 to .265 with six home runs and 29 RBIs. He was 2-for-4 on Friday with a homer and three RBIs. On Thursday in Washington, he had a 4-for-4 game. And on Wednesday against the Padres, he had a two-homer, five-RBI game.

"I've been getting treatment. It's been an issue, but I think some of the rehab stuff I've been doing lately is helping," Hanigan said on Saturday. "It's still sore. It stems from the collision. I've been managing it. My swing feels good, and things are loosening up a little bit."

Worth noting

• Saturday marked the 200th Major League game of Reds left-hander Dontrelle Willis' Major League career. The outing against the Pirates was his 197th start.

• Francisco Cordero's save on Friday gave him 315 for his career and sole possession of 16th place on the all-time list, ahead of Robb Nen. Next on the list was Rick Aguilera, with 318 career saves.

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.