9/18/2013 12:15 A.M. ET
Cozart sees improvement after focusing on approach
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- At some point while struggling at the plate, Reds shortstop Zack Cozart stopped focusing on the results of his decisions as a hitter and what needed to be done during the at-bat itself.
And wouldn't you know it? The results have been pretty good.
Cozart, who was moved down from the second spot to the bottom third of the lineup, is batting .305 over his past 44 games since July 30. He's been working at driving the ball to the opposite field.
"I think it's really the first time in my career -- the past two months -- that I focused on my approach," Cozart said. "That's all I think about up there, my certain approach. It kind of clears my mind of everything else. You just have that one thought, and all of a sudden you just see the ball and hit it. I've been hitting a lot more balls to right-center and right field and that's been my approach."
During the Reds' 6-1 win over the Astros Monday, Cozart was 2-for-4 with a two-run home run and four RBIs. It snapped a 1-for-15 skid that came on the heels of his career-best 15-game hitting streak. During that streak, he batted .373 (22-for-59).
On the homer in the top of the second inning, Cozart pulled a 3-1 changeup from Erik Bedard to the left-field Crawford boxes. In the fourth, he went the opposite way and lined a two-run single to right field.
"I'm going to pull balls. I can pull the ball with anybody," Cozart said. "If they throw it middle, in or whatever, if I'm in the right spot, I'm going to pull it. If I just stay with my approach to right-center like I have the past couple of months, I feel pretty good out there."
In a 10-0 win over Houston on Tuesday, Cozart added three more RBIs to give him seven for the series and eight in his last three games. He hit a two-run single to right field in the first inning and a two-out RBI single to right-center field in the third.
Cueto feels fine after first start since June
HOUSTON -- One day after returning to the rotation from a 2 1/2-month stint on the disabled list and throwing five scoreless innings for Monday's 6-1 win over the Astros, Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto said he felt good. Cueto, who had been out with a strained right lat muscle, also described feeling the normal soreness he would that follows a start.
"Today and tomorrow are big on how he feels," Reds manager Dusty Baker said on Tuesday. "You talk to pitchers and they talk about normal soreness. He's probably more sore than normal and he had to exert extra energy and adrenaline because he hasn't been there."
Cueto's outing came against an Astros team with the Major Leagues' worst record. Might he face a tougher task next week against the Mets, or perhaps the rival Pirates in the regular season's final two series?
Baker wasn't ready to reveal a plan for Cueto.
"We'll see how this week goes," Baker said. "There's not a whole bunch of people that can fill that slot better than Johnny. It depends on how he feels, and there's a chance those games are going to be pretty important."
With rare start, Robinson aims to prove himself
HOUSTON -- For the first time since returning to the Reds as a September callup, Derrick Robinson was in the starting lineup when he played left field on Tuesday. From April 5 through Aug. 11, Robinson had started 35 games, but most of his nine games since Sept. 1 had come as a defensive replacement or pinch-hitter. He was 0-for-5 in those games.
"It's better than none. You can learn from it or waste it, so I definitely took advantage of those at-bats," Robinson said. "It's always good to be in the lineup. Hopefully, I'll pick up where I left off when I was playing every day down there in Triple-A."
Robinson is likely among those on the bubble in trying to make the 25-man postseason roster for Cincinnati.
"I can't control that," Robinson said. "I'm just going out and doing what I can, regardless. If I'm there, I will give 110 percent."
Fire alarm goes off at Reds' hotel overnight
HOUSTON -- Many members of the Reds roster were somewhat sleep deprived Tuesday because of a fire alarm that sounded at the team hotel overnight. It proved to be a false alarm, but the noise persisted for approximately one hour.
A few Reds tweeted about the experience, including reliever J.J. Hoover.
Nothing says good nights rest like a false hotel emergency alarm at 3 am. Stay hot! Turn the stupid thing off!- JJ Hoover (@JJ_Hoover) September 17, 2013
From reliever Manny Parra:
Word is systems guy doesn't know how to shut it off. Might need to find another hotel.- Manny Parra (@MannyParra26) September 17, 2013
And second baseman Brandon Phillips had a leading suspect behind the alarm.