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Phillips backs up words with big hit

The pen is mightier than the sword, and Brandon Phillips proved Friday the bat is mightier than the mouth.

A Cincinnati Magazine article caused a stir Friday when it quoted the Reds second baseman saying his 2012 contract extension, signed days after Joey Votto inked a much larger deal, was a slap in the face and that he’s still scarred by the experience. Phillips brushed off the controversy before the game, repeating that he said nothing wrong. Even Votto defended his statements.

No one would have argued Phillips deserved anything close to what Votto got in 2012, but it’s been a different story this year. Phillips continues to back up his words with action. He drove in three runs with a bases-loaded double in the fifth, leading the Reds to a 5-3 victory over the Pirates in front of a sellout crowd of 40,831 at Great American Ball Park.

The Reds (54-42) now trail second-place Pittsburgh (56-38) by three games in the NL Central.

“My teammates put me in a great situation to come through, and I came through,” Phillips said. “I try to drive runs in. I’ve been doing it so far this year. Hopefully, I can keep it up. He just left me a ball out over the plate, and I drove it to left center. All my teammates were cheering me on. I was looking at them. We were going crazy. This is what it’s all about.”

Phillips now has 77 RBIs, tying him for third in baseball. He’s on pace for 130 RBIs. That would be 36 more than his career high and the most by a Red since George Foster had 149 in 1977.

Phillips is 9-for-11 with 21 RBIs with the bases loaded this season. He said he starts thinking about ribeye (or RBI) steaks when he sees runners on base.

“I’m going to eat maybe two tonight,” he said. “I don’t think I can eat three. I might try to fit that in there. When I see guys in scoring position, I’m like, ‘Wow, I’ve got to do my job. This is what I’ve been working my butt off for.’”

Phillips provided the big hit, but Chris Heisey provided the first one. Heisey’s home run in the first gave the Reds a 1-0 lead. It was the third home run in the last eight games for Heisey.

Reds starter Mike Leake gave up just three hits with five strikeouts in the first five innings.

The Reds then gave Leake some breathing room with four runs in the fifth. Three scored on Phillips’ double after Votto walked to load the bases.

The Reds’ 5-0 lead didn’t look so safe an inning later when Leake gave up home runs to Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Russell Martin. Logan Ondrusek relieved Leake after the third home run and combined with Alfredo Simon, Manny Parra, Sam LeCure and Aroldis Chapman combined to hold the Pirates scoreless the rest of the way.

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