Joey Votto had gone 15 consecutive at-bats without recording a hit.
Heading into the series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Cincinnati Reds first baseman had a .214 batting average and said he hadn’t performed well this season. But Votto said he thought facing a tough opponent like the defending World Series champions could help him.
Votto was right.
On Tuesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Votto hit the go-ahead two-run double in the seventh inning as the Reds won their second consecutive game. Votto’s extra-base hit led the Reds to a 6-5 win over the Dodgers.
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For Monday’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Votto had a scheduled off day. Votto had just gone 0-for-10 against the St. Louis Cardinals, and manager David Bell said Votto could use a break four weeks into the season.
Votto returned on Tuesday hitting third in the order, and he came up in the seventh inning with two runners on against Dodgers left-handed reliever Scott Alexander.
Before Tuesday’s game, Votto only had two hits and one RBI against left-handed pitchers all season. But Votto pulled a 92-mph sinker from Alexander down the right-field line, driving in left fielder Jesse Winker and right fielder Nick Castellanos.
The Reds took a 6-5 lead, and the Reds bullpen closed out the game.
While Dodgers starter Walker Buehler pitched 6 ⅓ innings with a season-high 10 strikeouts, Winker led the Reds offense before Votto’s go-ahead hit.
Facing one of the best starting pitchers in the National League, Winker’s aggressive approach led to him homering for the third consecutive game.
Entering the game, Winker was already the National League leader in batting average. He was on an 11-game hitting streak. And he already had five home runs, four doubles and 13 RBI.
He wasn’t lacking in confidence.
On the first pitch of the game, Winker homered to right field off Buehler. On the first pitch of his at-bat in the top of the fifth inning, Winker hit a game-tying RBI single. He added a double in the ninth inning to improve his batting average to .397.
Buehler has pitched in 75 MLB games over the last five years, and he has only allowed four runs in 16 of them. The Reds scored five runs off Buehler on Tuesday, and Winker was responsible for nearly half of them.
Cincinnati starting pitcher Jeff Hoffman pitched four innings and allowed one run and three hits. For the most part, the Reds’ pitching staff held in check the only team in the National League with a higher on-base percentage than theirs.
Down the stretch, the Reds bullpen held that offense scoreless after the sixth inning. Standout relief pitchers Lucas Sims and Tejay Antone both had pitched extended outings in Monday’s win, so Bell used Ryan Hendrix and Heath Hembree in high leverage situations on Tuesday.
Hendrix and Hembree were both at the Reds’ alternate site last week, but they combined for 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Sean Doolittle closed the game in the ninth for his first save since the 2019 World Series.