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07/26/11 12:20 AM ET

Baker gets Votto a rare night off

CINCINNATI -- It's been clear lately that Reds first baseman Joey Votto was running on fumes and needed a break. Manager Dusty Baker foreshadowed over the weekend one was imminent.

It happened Monday for the four-game series opener vs. the Mets and knuckleball pitcher R.A. Dickey. For only the second time this season, Votto was not in the starting lineup. Todd Frazier played first base, while right fielder Jay Bruce took over Votto's customary third spot in the order.

Votto pinch-hit in the eighth inning of Cincinnati's 4-2 loss, flying out to left field.

"You've seen Joey lately, ain't you? He's been struggling," Baker said on Monday. "Today was the day to give him off. You have to give them off sometime. You could tell by the concentration and quickness. His legs looked heavy running."

In Sunday's 4-3 win over the Braves, Votto was 0-for-2 with two strikeouts and a fifth-inning walk. However, he was picked off first base.

Votto, the 2010 National League MVP, hasn't hit a home run since July 8 at Milwaukee, and he entered Monday with only nine RBIs in July. He was not affording the full four-day All-Star break, since he was one of the Reds representatives at the Midsummer Classic in Phoenix.

In nine games since the break, Votto is batting .212 (7-for-33) with four RBIs. In his last five games, he was 2-for-17 (.118). Overall, he is batting .315 in 100 games, with 13 homers, 59 RBIs and a league leading .425 on-base percentage.

Baker told Votto to arrive at the ballpark later than usual on Monday, and the manager let him miss batting practice.

"It's a day you have to eat, eat, eat, and force yourself to get your strength and energy back," Baker said.

Heisey has bruised shoulder after collision

CINCINNATI -- Reds outfielder Chris Heisey suffered a bruised left shoulder after a ninth-inning collision at the wall with center fielder Drew Stubbs during Sunday's 4-3 win over the Braves. He underwent an MRI exam, which was negative for anything serious.

"I'm fine. I'll be ready to play tonight," said Heisey, who was not in the starting lineup Monday.

With one out in the ninth and a runner on second base in a 3-3 game, Atlanta's Nate McLouth sent a drive to the warning track in left-center field. Heisey, the left fielder, and Stubbs both called for the ball and converged at the fence. Stubbs made the catch as Heisey banged off his teammate and hit the wall. He spent a couple of moments down on the ground before collecting himself.

"It was so loud out there. He was definitely calling for it, but I never heard him," Heisey said. "Sometimes when you're both calling at the same time, you hear yourself instead of him. I'm just glad the ball got caught. I knew he was coming. As some point, you have to say, 'We'll probably run into each other, but one of us has to catch it.' The game was on the line."

The runner tagged up and reached third base on the play, but was left stranded by reliever Francisco Cordero. Stubbs won the game for Cincinnati with a leadoff homer in the bottom of the ninth.

"I'd rather have that than both of them pull up and the ball falls in," manager Dusty Baker said of the collision. "That's two guys that want to catch the ball."

Worth noting

In his second rehab assignment outing for Triple-A Louisville on Sunday, Matt Maloney pitched four innings of relief and gave up one run and two hits with no walks and three strikeouts to earn a 3-2 victory of Charlotte. With 35 wins, Maloney became the winningest pitcher in Louisville's franchise history.

Maloney is on the Reds' 60-day disabled list because of a broken rib.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.