CINCINNATI – A medium-deep fly ball by Joey Votto would’ve done the trick. He did better than that.
Votto hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the eighth inning, lifting the Cincinnati Reds over the Cleveland Indians 4-2 Monday in the opener of their intrastate matchup.
I just wanted to put the barrel on the ball and at least get a sacrifice fly, said Votto, who began the day leading the NL in hitting at .353. It was important to not strike out there or roll over and put the ball on the ground.
Votto won this interleague game with his ninth homer, tagging left-hander Nick Hagadone (0-1). The reliever was called up from Triple-A earlier in the day when closer Chris Perez was put on the disabled list with a sore right shoulder.
Shin-Soo Choo led off the Reds’ eighth with a single and moved around on a passed ball and Zack Cozart’s sacrifice bunt. With the Indians’ infield drawn in, Votto followed with an opposite-field shot into the seats in left, lifting the Reds to their sixth win in their last seven games.
Votto’s homer came with NL RBI leader Brandon Phillips on deck.
I never second-guess the other team’s manager, Baker said when asked whether he was surprised the Indians pitched to Votto rather than Phillips. You’ve got to take your shot at some point in the game. Votto won that time.
Hagadone refused to blame his inexperience.
It was supposed to be a fastball away, he said. Even if I’d been up here all year, I’d have been upset.
Choo, traded from the Indians to the Reds in the offseason, also hit a leadoff homer in the first.
Jason Giambi tied it in the Indians’ eighth with a long pinch-hit homer. The solo shot was estimated at 467 feet and caromed off the batter’s background in center field.
Jonathan Broxton (2-1) got two outs in the eighth. Aroldis Chapman pitched the ninth for his 13th save, clinching the Indians’ fourth consecutive loss and sixth in their last seven games.
Reds starter Mike Leake allowed one earned run and five hits in 7 1/3 innings, striking out seven to match his season high. He left with a no-decision after giving up Giambi’s homer.
Even that pitch wasn’t a bad pitch, Leake said. He did a very good job with it. I thought I did a pretty good job today, as a whole. That’s a very good lineup. I was going after them, trying to make them hit my pitch.
Ubaldo Jimenez, 3-0 in five previous career starts against Cincinnati, gave up four hits and two runs in seven innings.
Choo led off with his 10th homer of the season.
The Indians took advantage of an error by Phillips to tie it in the fourth.
Jason Kipnis singled and took third when Phillips mishandled Nick Swisher’s grounder. Carlos Santana’s sacrifice fly made it 1-all.
Cozart led off the sixth with a double that just nicked the left-field line, advanced on Votto’s groundout to second and scored on Phillips’ sacrifice fly.