CINCINNATI -- Reds right-hander Homer Bailey was given all he should have needed to win a game Saturday, courtesy of Joey Votto.

In a remarkable return from several days out with an inner ear infection, Votto homered in his first two at-bats and gave the Reds and Bailey a lead both times. But the beautiful beginning for Votto had far from a fitting ending as the Reds were handed a 7-6 loss by the Indians in a three-hour, 49-minute game full of missed opportunities.

"That was a tough one to lose right there," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "A lot of things could have gone differently in that game."

The game was decided anticlimactically in the top of the eighth. It was 6-6 when Reds reliever David Weathers (0-1) gave up Luis Valbuena's leadoff double. After a sacrifice and a walk, Valbuena scored when Asdrubal Cabrera hit a chopped RBI grounder to third base with Arthur Rhodes pitching.

"It's one of those things," Weathers said. "You give up a leadoff double, bad things happen."

Early on, it seemed like it would be all good for Cincinnati, at least offensively. In his first game back from an inner ear infection that brought dizziness that caused him to miss the previous four games and all or parts of three others, Votto crushed a 3-2 David Huff pitch into the left-center field seats for a 1-0 first inning lead.

In the second inning, Votto slugged a 2-0 Huff pitch 436 feet into the right-field seats for a three-run long ball and a 6-4 Reds advantage.

"If Joey was apparently 'sick,' I think we all need to be diagnosed sick," Bailey said. "He had a great night tonight. Some of those balls were crushed."

"That's Joey," Baker said. "He has that short stroke. That was a great comeback game for Joey. I'm just glad to have him back."

In what was likely a one-off spot start while Edinson Volquez is on the disabled list with back spasms, Bailey definitely did not make the most of his latest big league chance.

The 23-year-old right-hander, in his fifth stint with the Reds, struggled with his command all night and couldn't make either lead hold up. In 4 1/3 innings, Bailey had just three hits allowed but also gave up six earned runs and a career-high six walks with three strikeouts.

"I just wasn't able to locate in the zone," Bailey said. "That's basically all there was to it."

Bailey worked from behind most of the night and threw first-pitch balls to 15 of his 23 batters.

"It's hard for any pitcher to pitch behind in the counts," Bailey said. "I was doing that a lot tonight. There were a few calls that could have gone either way tonight, but as inconsistent as I was, you really can't use that as an excuse."

Bailey endured an eight-batter top of the second. After walking leadoff batter Shin-Soo Choo, Bailey gave up Mark DeRosa's two-run homer to left-center field. Later, with two outs, Cabrera hit a two-run single and Cleveland had a three-run lead.

The Reds countered with a five-run bottom of the second behind a two-run homer by Ramon Hernandez and Votto's three-run shot. Votto received a request for a curtain call from the crowd of 35,821 fans at Great American Ball Park, which he acknowledged from the top step of the dugout.

Bailey, who seemed to frequently shake off pitch calls from his catcher, Hernandez, was out of the game after he walked the bases loaded with one out in the fifth. Two more runs scored on DeRosa's two-run single off Jared Burton that tied the game at 6. DeRosa finished the night with four RBIs.

"Homer was throwing the ball good and had good velocity," Baker said. "That's the best velocity I've seen. There were a lot of near-misses late in some counts that hurt."

With a day off next week, the Reds can work with four starters until Volquez can be activated June 1. Baker said a decision on Bailey's future would be determined Sunday.

The Reds still had plenty of chances as they stranded 10 on base, including eight over the fifth-through-eighth innings. Twice, Jay Bruce sent deep drives to right field that just missed and were caught at the warning track.

"We had a lot of runners on base. A lot of things didn't happen for us tonight," Baker said.