CINCINNATI – Joey Votto emerged from his deep slump when the Reds really needed him.
Votto singled and hit a two-run homer Friday night to lead Cincinnati to a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers that kept its momentum going in the NL Central race.
The 2010 NL MVP has been having a tough time, watching his batting average fall to .300 after he led the league at .361 on May 24. The Reds got a run in the fourth when Votto ended his 0-for-13 streak with a single off Stephen Fife, Jay Bruce singled and Ryan Ludwick grounded into a double play.
Votto hit a two-run homer – his 22nd – off J.P. Howell (2-1) in the fifth inning for a 3-2 lead.
This is one game, Votto said. You’re only as good as your last at-bat.
His last at-bat Friday? The decisive homer.
Joey coming through was a big thing for us, said Mike Leake, who went 7 2/3 innings. When you’re in a slump, it’s tough – not that his was a big one. I’m glad for him.
Manager Dusty Baker asked Votto if he wanted a day off Friday to regroup. Votto decided to play and broke out.
It started with the base hit up the middle, Baker said. You guys know the stats. I knew he was 0-for-something. He came through at the right time. You can’t hold a good man down for long.
While the Reds were relieved, the Dodgers got another concern for their pitching staff. The NL West leaders lost Chris Capuano to a mild groin strain in the second inning, when he grimaced on a pitch to Zack Cozart. Already this week, the Dodgers had to push Hyun-Jin Ryu back from a scheduled start because of a sore back.
It is something I’ve had before, but I’ve been able to keep it at bay, Capuano said. I just felt it grab on a pitch to Cozart. I didn’t hear it pop or anything. I hope it’s a mild strain. I have to wait to see how it feels tomorrow. I’ve felt great the last couple of games.
Leake (12-6) emerged from his recent slump, helping the Reds get their fourth win in five games. He allowed five hits, including Hanley Ramirez’s two-run homer.
Aroldis Chapman, pitching for the fourth day in a row, fanned three in the ninth for his 35th save in 40 chances. It was only the eighth time in his career that the hard-throwing lefty went four days in a row.
We know down the stretch we’re going to play a lot of close games, Baker said. We know down the stretch our closer is going to have to go multiple games.
Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips was in the lineup a day after he left a game because of a sore left thigh. He singled in the eighth off Paco Rodriguez.