When the Cincinnati Reds beat the San Diego Padres on a walk-off hit in the bottom of the ninth inning on July 1, Reds first baseman Joey Votto told shortstop Kyle Farmer and catcher Tyler Stephenson they just saved the Reds' season with their RBI that gave the team the lead.
Over two months later, in the Reds game on Monday against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati was three games back in the NL Wild Card race. The Pirates took an early five-run lead. In the series opener against one of the worst teams in baseball, the season was approaching the brink.
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This time, Votto orchestrated a comeback that appeared to be just as significant. As the Reds beat the Pirates, 9-5, Votto homered twice to bring the team back from a 5-0 deficit.
Through the first three innings, the Reds were on the ropes. Rookie starting pitcher Vladimir Gutierrez allowed back-to-back home runs in the top of the first inning. The Pirates jumped on his fastball, and Gutierrez never found a way to throw that pitch past the Pirates.
Then to open the third inning, Gutierrez walked the opposing pitcher on four straight fastballs. His start continued to snowball, allowing three more runs to cross the plate. Gutierrez got out of the inning with a double play, but he has failed to make it out of the fourth inning in four of his last five starts.
The Reds were in danger of losing for the third time in their last four games against the Pirates. Reds right fielder Nick Castellanos started the Reds’ momentum with a two-RBI double, and Votto made it a 5-4 game.
After Votto crossed home plate, he flexed, smiled and celebrated with the team. In his next at-bat, he homered again to tie the score. Votto finished the game 3-for-3 at the plate with two walks and two home runs.
Third baseman Eugenio Suárez, who is having his best month of the season, gave the Reds a 6-5 lead in the fifth with a home run off the top of the left field wall. Two innings after trailing 5-0, the Reds were up against the Pirates.
Suarez’s home run completed one of the Reds biggest comebacks of the season. In front of 17,086 fans at Great American Ball Park, the Reds bullpen pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings as Mychal Givens picked up the save.
The Reds still trail the St. Louis Cardinals by three games in the NL Wild Card race, but Cincinnati prevented its deficit from increasing any further.