McCoy: Votto cracks career home run No. 300 to lead Reds past Cubs

Joey Votto hit the big 3-0-0 Friday night in Great American Ball Park, his 300th career home run that literally launched the Cincinnati Reds to an 8-6 win over the last-place Chicago Cubs.

The Reds trailed, 2-1, in the third inning when Votto dispatched a 429-foot two-run moon shot high into the right field moon deck.

Votto and his teammates poured it on from there against Chicago’s best pitcher, Jake Arrieta, handing the Cubs their sixth loss in seven games. But they had to withstand a ninth-inning uprising by the Cubs before tucking it away.

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Eugenio Suarez and Nick Senzel added home runs off Arrieta during a four-run fourth to push the lead to 7-2.

The night, though, belonged to Votto, who was geniunely touched by his teammates’ reaction and reception.

“It surprised me, in a great way,” he said. “The support I’ve received from them has been shocking. They’ve been wonderful — really, really good to me.

“I’m happy, of course, about 300, but all I could think about was getting ahead in the game,” he added. “The home run put us ahead and we stayed ahead the rest of the way. That’s where my head was at.

“Then when I crossed home plate, the support I received was shocking. I didn’t get teary-eyed, but I was emotional and grateful and feel lucky to have such great teammates.”

The most on-the-field reaction came from Eugenio Suarez, who sprinted from the dugout and nearly mugged Votto.

“It’s funny, after I spoke about Jay Bruce when he retired recently) and said he was my favorite teammate, I went up to Eugenio the very next day,” said Votto. “The first thing I told him was, ‘Hey, man, I want you to know I played with him for nine years, plus the minor leagues. I love you, man. I had a hard time saying he was my favorite teammates because I think you might pass him, bro.’”

Suarez was 0 for 26 when he homered Friday and is hitting only .125 and leads the league in strikeouts. That matters not to Votto.

“He is such a great teammates, so steady,” said Votto. “He has not played anywhere near the level we know he is going to play. His personality, he has never showed his bind. He has always been steady. He brings good energy every day. He’s trying on a daily basis to be the very best he can. He makes no excuses and he is such a pleasure. I have nothing but respect for anybody who takes that approach. And just so happens to be fantastically talented. We’ll see that by the end of the season. I’m very lucky to be able to play with him.”

That’s typical Votto — diverting praise and attention from himself to somebody else. And when asked if he plans anything special, like a cigar or champagne, Votto paused for a brief moment.

“I’ll probably go home and watch tomorrow’s opposing pitcher,” he said. “And then try to get a proper night’s rest. The answer is … nothing.

“We’re still south of .500 (12-14) and we have really big plans for this year. So I’ll try to turn the page on this one and get ready for a win tomorrow.”

Arrieta entered Friday’s game having given up eight runs and two home runs in his previous five starts and owned a 5-and-1 career record in Great American Ball Park.

The Reds, though, drove him back into the clubhouse after only 3 1/3 innings. They abused him for seven runs, seven hits and three home runs, expanding his earned run average from 2.52  to 4.31.

Cincinnati starter Wade Miley was not sharp and struggled with his command for three innings. He gave up a home run to Kris Bryant in the first and another run in the second to fall behind, 2-0.

He escaped major damage in the third when the  Cubs put runners on third and second with no outs, but didn’t score.

Buoyed by that escape and the Reds’ three-run eruption in the third, Miley settled in and retired six of his the next eight. But his pitch count after five innings was at 99 pitches and his evening was over.

Probably the best thing he did was start the third inning with a one-out single, a hit that preceded Votto’s home run. Miley also reached base in the fourth on a fielder’s choice and scored his second run of the night.

The Reds scored their eighth run in the sixth on Jesse Winker’s fielder’s choice, but it may turn out to be a costly RBI for Winker. He left the game with a tight back.

Jose De Leon pitched two innings and gave up a pair of runs. Carson Fulmer pitched a scoreless eighth and started the ninth.

But when the first two Cubs reached, Lucas Sims was summoned to clean up affairs against the most difficult portion of the Cubs batting order.

He walked Bryant on a full count to fill the bases with no outs. That brought up Anthony Rizzo, the potential tying run and Rizzo popped up to shallow left. Javier Baez hit a deep sacrifice fly to the track in the left, cutting the Reds lead to 8-5.

Pinch-hitter Jason Heyward, still the potential tying run, took the count to 3-and-2, and Sims walked him to refill the bases.

With Cubs surrounding him on the bases, Sims went to 3-and-2 again, this time Jake Marisnick, and also walked him, forcing in a run and it was 8-6, with the bases still loaded.

That was the end of a dismal night for Sims, who turned it over to Tejay Antone. Antone retired David Bote on a ground ball to third baseman Mike Moustakas.

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