Votto leads Reds' homer parade
First baseman hits three of club's seven long balls
CINCINNATI -- Until his next start, run-starved pitcher Aaron Harang should follow Edinson Volquez everywhere he goes. Harang should touch all of his belongings, eat the same food and even wear Volquez's No. 36 jersey under his No. 39 uniform.Then Harang should tell first baseman Joey Votto, "save some home runs for me." When Harang pitches, the Reds' lineup usually provides him the unwanted quiet calm of crickets. Meanwhile, Volquez routinely gets the fireworks. And during Cincinnati's 9-0 thumping of the Cubs on Wednesday, there were lots and lots of fireworks -- the kind that are launched at Great American Ball Park after home runs are hit. A grand total of seven home runs, including three by Votto, accounted for the Reds' run support of Volquez, who pitched seven scoreless innings for the win. "Honestly, I was like a kid. I thought it was cool," said Votto, who quickly jumped from four homers to seven for this season.
Alex Gonzalez jokingly swiped the rookie's curtain call for the 28,418 fans, but Votto still got to take his bow from the top step of the dugout.Adam Dunn, Paul Bako, Jerry Hairston Jr. and Brandon Phillips each went yard once as Cincinnati took the rubber game of the three-game series. The seven homers set a ballpark record. A team-record-tying four came in the bottom of the second inning vs. Cubs starter Jon Lieber (2-1), who was making his first start since last June. On Tuesday, the Reds and Harang were handed a 3-0 shutout by Chicago in what was only the 31st homerless game in 423 games played at Great American Ball Park. "It was great to see that," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "Boy, you get all those home runs in one inning, especially after we haven't been hitting any and not scoring any runs." The Reds were hitting .246 as a team, including just .183 over their previous seven games while losing six. Cincinnati also tied a season high Wednesday with 15 hits. Votto got the home run parade rolling in the second against Lieber when he pulled a 1-1 slider over the right-field fence. Dunn made it back-to-back jacks with his sixth homer of the year. There were two outs in the second when Hairston hit a 3-1 pitch into the left-field seats for a 5-0 Reds lead. Back-to-back homers came again to start the fifth inning vs. reliever Sean Marshall. Phillips clanked the first pitch off of the left-field foul pole. Votto followed by hitting a 2-0 fastball over the wall in left-center field. Home run No. 3 came with two outs in the sixth when the 24-year-old launched a 1-0 fastball for a two-run shot to left-center field against Sean Gallagher. Votto had one more at-bat in the bottom of the eighth against Michael Wuertz. Was Votto thinking about No. 4 before he grounded out routinely to the shortstop? "I'm not going to lie. It was in the back of my head," said Votto, who was the first Red with a three-homer game since Aaron Boone in 2003. "I just thought if I put a really good swing on a good pitch, I would have a chance to do some good. It's weird. Sometimes, you have games like this and you don't know why things go so well. You kind of go with the flow. That last at-bat, I tried to go with the flow." Votto is now batting .302 with 18 RBIs this season. Although Volquez gave up six walks to go with his four hits allowed, he got much more support than he needed. The 24-year-old right-hander tied a career high with 10 strikeouts. "It was a lot of fun," Volquez said of the offensive boost. "Everybody was in the dugout saying, 'Hey man, you have to pitch every day. We need some runs.'" Volquez had runners on base in every inning but was able to count on his 95-mph fastball to get him out of jams. Chicago went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and stranded 12 on base.
"The thing about him is he has stuff where he can strike himself out of trouble," Baker said. "A lot of guys don't have that ability. We still want him to minimize his pitches so he can go deeper in the ballgame. We'll take what he's doing right now."Volquez is 5-1 with a 1.06 ERA in seven starts. He's allowed no more than one earned run in any of his outings, which is something no Reds pitcher has done since the Elias Sports Bureau started keeping earned runs as a statistic in 1912. As uber-stingy as Volquez is with opponents, his teammates are generous. The Reds have scored 44 runs in his five wins, including eight or more runs five times. In the two starts he didn't win, the Reds were shut out. Meanwhile, Harang is 1-5 and the lineup has scored two runs or fewer in four of his losses. "Hey what are you doing? You get a lot support every time you pitch," Volquez said Harang ask him. "I don't know," Volquez replied. "Maybe give me your paycheck."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.