Brandon Phillips is on a tear, and that may only continue against the Colorado Rockies.
The Cincinnati Reds may be hoping he can keep it up beyond that in order to further tighten the NL Central race.
With another important series against St. Louis looming, the visiting Reds could use another impressive performance from Phillips in order to beat the Rockies again in Sunday's finale.
Phillips is 7 for 14 over his last three games with a homer, two doubles, a triple and four RBIs.
He turned in his best performance of that stretch in Saturday's 8-3 win at Colorado, becoming the first Red to come a single shy of the cycle since Adam Dunn on May 10, 2007.
"It would have been nice to get it done," Phillips said of possibly hitting for the cycle for the first time.
Cincinnati (76-60) could use another strong performance from the All-Star second baseman before returning home to open a four-game series with the Cardinals.
The Reds dropped two of three at St. Louis before arriving in Denver.
Cincinnati is 2 1/2 games back of second-place St. Louis, and 3 1/2 behind division-leading Pittsburgh. However, the Reds have a six-game cushion on Arizona for the NL's second wild-card spot.
Phillips will try to help them close those gaps Sunday, and he's 15 for 31 (.484) with seven extra-base hits, 12 RBIs and nine runs over his last eight meetings with the Rockies.
A big day at the plate may be important with Mike Leake (11-5, 3.27 ERA) on the mound. The right-hander is 1-1 with a 6.44 ERA over his last five starts, and that includes surrendering nine runs in 11 1-3 innings in two road outings.
Leake had a 1.94 ERA to go with his 7-1 record over his previous 12 away starts. He was hit hard Monday at St. Louis, giving up five runs in 6 1-3 innings of an 8-6 loss.
Leake will now make his first appearance at Coors Field. He's 1-0 with a 4.09 ERA in two starts versus the Rockies.
Colorado (64-73) will counter with Tyler Chatwood (7-4, 3.15), who will make his return from right elbow inflammation.
The right-hander has been out since the worst outing of his career July 31 at Atlanta, when he gave up eight runs and 10 hits in 2 1-3 innings of a 9-0 loss.
He was impressive in a rehabilitation start with Triple-A Colorado Springs on Tuesday, yielding one run in 5 1-3 innings.
"Chatty seems ready to roll on Sunday," manager Walt Weiss told the team's official website.
He lost his only career meeting with Cincinnati on June 3, allowing one run in four innings of a 3-0 defeat.
Todd Helton went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts Saturday after hitting two homers to match his career high of six RBIs in the series opener.
He's 3 for 4 versus Leake, while Troy Tulowitzki is 3 for 6 with a homer.
The Associated Press News Service
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