HOUSTON -- After missing four games with a sprained right ankle, Paul Janish was back in Cincinnati's starting lineup on Wednesday playing third base in the final game of a three-game series against the Astros.
"I'm kind of excited -- get a chance to play at least one game at home for me and test it out," said Janish, a Houston resident who starred at Rice University.
The timing was right for Janish's return. The Reds have an off-day on Thursday before beginning a three-game home series with St. Louis starting on Friday.
"It works out well," said Janish, who has started 22 games at shortstop and five at third base. "Since we have the day off tomorrow, I get to play, and if I have any soreness or anything, I'll have the day to get back to neutral."
Janish injured the ankle rounding third base last Friday against the Cubs. He isn't 100 percent healthy but said the ankle is manageable, and it shouldn't be too cumbersome on the field.
Reds manager Dusty Baker put Janish at third base on Wednesday to break him in slowly as opposed to playing shortstop.
"I don't think it would have mattered a whole lot," said Janish. "In terms of where I was playing, it's just good to be back in general."
Chapman going through a rough patch
HOUSTON -- Left-hander Aroldis Chapman has struggled in his last three relief appearances, especially in Tuesday's 7-3 win over the Astros. Chapman was unable to retire any of the four batters he faced after inheriting a 7-0 lead in the eighth inning.
Chapman, who has reached 106 mph this season on the radar gun, couldn't find the plate on Tuesday as he walked three Astros and hit a batter.
"He's having a hard time staying on top of the ball," said Reds pitching coach Bryan Price. "His arm slot gets a little low. And with that velocity, and sometimes the inexperience, I feel he doesn't know where to go to fix it in the middle of the game.
"When he's really been throwing the ball well, he's on top of the ball and his ball is a little more true, but easier to control. And now he's pulling a lot of balls inside to the right-hand hitters."
The 23-year-old Chapman, who is in his second season with the Reds, is in no immediate danger of being sent down to Triple-A Louisville. Chapman, who has been in the national spotlight because of how hard he throws, began the season with 12 scoreless appearances in 11 2/3 innings but has allowed six runs in his last three appearances.
"When you struggle a few times -- especially a young player -- where he struggles to throw strikes, it's an uncomfortable feeling," said Price. "He's one of those players people stop and watch when he's coming into games. Not just people that are watching the [Astros-Reds] game in Houston and Cincinnati, but nationally. When you struggle over a period of time, your confidence is affected. But he's capable of working his way through it."
Phillips impressed with Berkman's hot start
HOUSTON -- The Cardinals are a natural rival for the Reds, with St. Louis being a perennial contender in the National League Central. The two teams will meet for a three-game series in Cincinnati this weekend.
But there's still a great deal of respect between the two teams, especially when it comes to the way Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips feels about first-year Cardinal Lance Berkman, who played 12 years in Houston until being traded last year to the Yankees.
A year after batting .248 with Houston and New York, Berkman is batting .367 with 10 home runs and 32 RBIs with the Cardinals.
"I wish him the best," said Phillips. "I'm glad he's doing good. I think he has the comeback player already. A lot of people were getting on him the way he played last year. But once a good hitter, always a good hitter.
"I love watching the man play. He's one of the best switch-hitters in the game."
It's not just Berkman's play that Phillips likes. Berkman keeps everyone loose -- teammates as well as opposing players.
"He always has fun and things to say when he's on base, when I'm on base," said Phillips. "He's so talkative. Talking about baseball, talking about funny things during the game. He's a great guy."
Reds starting pitchers had thrown 24 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings before Edinson Volquez allowed a two-run single with two outs in the second Wednesday.
Friday's home game against St. Louis begins 20 straight games without a day off and 33 games in 34 days for the Reds.
Right-hander Jose Arredondo, who had right elbow surgery in February 2010, is 12 relief appearances into a rehab assignment -- six games at Double-A Carolina, six games at Triple-A Louisville. Infielder Juan Francisco (strained left calf) is two games into a rehab assignment at Louisville.
Third baseman Scott Rolen (strained left shoulder) met the team in Houston on Monday and continues his rehab under the Reds' medical staff.
Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.