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Cozart prides himself on the sacrifice


Reds shortstop Zack Cozart’s batting average has hovered around .240 all season. He’s the last guy you would expect to be leading the league in any positive category.

Yet through Monday, Cozart was tied for the major league lead in sacrifice bunts (11). He led all of baseball in sacrifice flies with nine.

Cozart hit a sacrifice fly to drive in the Reds’ first run in Monday’s 5-3 win over the Diamondbacks and drove in another run later in the game with a groundout with runners at second and third.

Cozart’s hitting .196 in August and .236 on the season. He ranks 17th out of 19 full-time starting shortstops in average and 18th in on-base percentage (.268). Cozart compares more favorably in RBIs, ranking 11th among shortstops with 42.

“I’m not having the best offensive season,” Cozart said. “I thought I was going to hit better, and I expect to hit better. But when you get guys on third or (Shin-Soo) Choo’s on second, you want to get them over for Joey (Votto). That’s what I have to do. You’ve got to do the little things when you’re not hitting particularly well as you want to. That’s what I’ve prided myself on this year.”

All-Star coaches: The Diamondbacks have the most star-studded coaching staff in the big leagues.

Manager Kirk Gibson, hitting coach Don Baylor, pitching coach Charles Nagy, first base coach Steve Sax, bench coach Alan Trammell and third-base coach Matt Williams could fill out an All-Star team, though Gibson holds the distinction of being the only one in the group to have never made an All-Star team. He’s the only player in history to have won an MVP award (1988) and to have not played in an All-Star game.

“That’s one of the best coaching staffs around,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

Still streaking: Reds reliever J.J. Hoover extended his scoreless innings streak to 26 1/3 Monday night. He has made 23 straight appearances without allowing a run.

It’s the longest streak in team history by a right-handed reliever. He’s tied with Aroldis Chapman for the third-longest streak by a reliever, righty or lefty, in team history. Chapman had 23 straight scoreless outings in 2012.

Only Arthur Rhodes (33 straight in 2010) and John Franco (24 straight in 1988) have done better.

During his run, Hoover has allowed 11 hits, walked seven and struck out 32. His ERA has dropped to 2.72.

Turning two: The Reds got out of trouble in the ninth inning Monday thanks to a beautiful double play turned by Zack Cozart and Brandon Phillips.

Jason Kubel singled off Aroldis Chapman to start the inning. Then Cozart charged a high chopper off the bat of Wil Nieves, grabbed it just above the dirt, turned and threw to Phillips, who managed a strong throw to Joey Votto at first while leaping to avoid the slide.

“That was pretty cool,” Cozart said. “When Chapman pitches, there’s not a lot of action usually because he strikes out a lot of guys. I knew when the ball was to me that Nieves was running, so I’m like, ‘If I make a good throw to Brandon here, we’ve got a good chance to turn a double play.”

Tonight’s game: Mike Leake (10-5, 3.01) starts for the Reds in the third game of the series against the Diamondbacks’ Brandon McCarthy (2-7, 4.84)


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