Johnson moves into heart of lineup

Johnson moves into heart of lineup

HOUSTON -- Astros manager Brad Mills couldn't ignore the urge to move red-hot rookie third baseman Chris Johnson into the heart of the batting order, penciling Johnson's name in the No. 5 spot in the lineup for the first time this year in Wednesday's 8-2 loss in 10 innings.

Johnson went 0-for-2, but plated the tying run with a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning and worked a walk in the seventh.

Entering Wednesday, Johnson led the Major Leagues in batting since the All-Star break with a .442 average. He had the third-highest OPS (on-base plus slugging) in the big leagues behind Toronto's Jose Bautista and Minnesota's Joe Mauer.

"He just keeps throwing out hits and keeps getting big hits, so I bumped him up a little bit to fifth," Mills said. "He's making it tough to leave him in that spot [sixth], and I wanted to give him more credit for what he's accomplished the last couple of weeks by being able to do that. This isn't going to be written in stone."

Mills had Jeff Keppinger back in the No. 2 hole, with shortstop Angel Sanchez hitting seventh to break up left-handers Brett Wallace at sixth and Jason Castro at eighth. The roll-with-the-punches Johnson said he doesn't care where he hits.

"I talked to Millsie about it and I told him, 'I'm going to have the same approach no matter where I'm hitting,'" Johnson said. "I do realize they're probably going to pitch me maybe a little bit different with guys on base, but I'm not really a guy that worries where I am in the lineup."