Joey Votto rescued the Cincinnati Reds bullpen from another sleepless night in a season full of blown leads.
Votto slammed a solo home run to center field in the bottom of the ninth Tuesday to give the Reds a 7-6 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in the opener of a three-game series at Great American Ball Park in front of a crowd of 24,182.
The home run only slightly soothes Votto’s frustration. His average climbed from .221 to .225. The Reds are 22-36 and 18½ games behind the Chicago Cubs in the National League West Division.
“I’m hitting .220, and it’s June,” Votto said. “I’m frustrated, and we’re losing a lot. That’s priority No. 1. I’d be perfectly fine hitting .220 because I know at the end of the year I’ll be fine, but it’s a combination of things. We’re losing, and today we didn’t lose. We won. Good feeling.”
PHOTOS: Reds vs. Cardinals
The home run was Votto’s second in the last three games. He hit .200 in May but has five hits in his first 17 at-bats in June.
“You’re never out of it, and you’re never in it,” Votto said. “It’s such a long season. You have to come to the ballpark every day with the attitude that you’re only as good as what you have today. It’s an accumulation of hopefully 650, 750 opportunities to prove that.”
Votto’s home run followed a blown save by Tony Cingrani. Matt Carpenter hit a one-out double in the ninth to score two runs and tie the game. The Reds caught a break when Carpenter was thrown out trying to stretch the double into a triple.
Former Reds starter Mike Leake pitched for the Cardinals. His 184th career start was his first against Cincinnati. He allowed six runs on 10 hits in 6 1/3 innings.
The Reds traded Leake to the San Francisco Giants last July and acquired outfielder Adam Duvall in return. The players crossed paths again in this game.
Duvall hit a three-run home run against Leake in the fourth inning. It was his fourth home run in his last five games and 10th in his last 15. He has 17 home runs in all, ranking third in baseball.
John Lamb started for the Reds and allowed one earned run on four hits in 7 1/3 innings.