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Red-hot Phelps hits three homers

Ties Ankiel's team record in Redbirds' 12-3 loss to Rainiers
July 30, 2008
Josh Phelps says he's not doing too much thinking at the plate, he's just trying to hit. He's succeeding at a prodigious pace.

The Major League veteran hit three solo homers on Tuesday, giving him five in two nights, but the Memphis Redbirds were pounded by the Tacoma Rainiers, 12-3, at AutoZone Park.

"Five homers, that's a lot in two days," said Phelps, who homered twice and drove in seven runs in Monday's 13-11 triumph over Tacoma. "I don't think I've ever had five in two days.

"I'm not trying to think about it, I'm just trying to go up there and hit."

The 30-year-old first baseman, who is 10-for-16 with six homers and 12 RBIs in his last four games, credited some of his success on Tuesday to the situation in which the Redbirds found themselves.

"I was getting good pitches because of the score," he said. "You've still got to hit the pitches once you get them, but I think the score enabled me to have a chance to hit."

Each homer came on a different pitch.

In the second, Phelps deposited a fastball over the left-field fence. Again facing Rainiers starter Ryan Feierabend in the sixth, he homered to left on a changeup. In the ninth, he hit a first-pitch slider from Jon Huber over the left-center field fence.

"I was watching how [Huber] pitched and I was looking for something up in the zone," Phelps said of his final blast.

Phelps, who hit .305 with the Yankees and Pirates last season, signed a Minor League contract with St. Louis in January and was assigned to Memphis on March 14. He is hitting .286 and ranks eighth in the Pacific Coast League with 76 RBIs to go with 23 homers.

"I just want to show up every night and be competitive," he said.

Phelps' three-homer game was the first by a Redbird since Rick Ankiel went deep three times at Iowa on June 16, 2007. It also was the eighth three-homer contest in the PCL this season and the second in as many days. Oklahoma's Nate Gold slugged three roundtrippers in Monday's 12-9 loss at Colorado Springs.

The Rainiers (54-55) got into the long ball act on Tuesday as Victor Diaz and Luis Valbuena each homered twice and drove in four runs.

Feierabend (6-1) allowed two runs on four hits over seven innings, fanning five and walking two, to pick up the win.

P.J. Walters (8-3) surrendered seven runs on seven hits and three walks with five strikeouts over 4 2/3 frames for Memphis (60-49).

Alan Friedman is a contributor to