05/14/12 11:37 PM ET
Hall of Fame claims Votto's magic bat
By Guy Curtright / Special to MLB.com
"It was exhausting," Joey Votto said. "It was a long day, but a good day."
The first baseman saw to that with a game-winning grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Reds came from behind for a dramatic 9-6 victory over the Nationals at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
The homer was Votto's third of the game, and the black bat he used will be on its way to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., when he is through with it.
"It's an honor for the Hall of Fame to be interested in something of mine," Votto said. "It's a first for me, and I'm happy about it."
Votto earned the inclusion. He is the first player in Major League history to produce three home runs and a walk-off grand slam in the same game, and the three homers tied a Reds record. It has been done 33 times by 27 players, including Votto previously. He hit three homers against the Cubs in 2008.
Votto established career bests with six RBIs and 14 total bases. His four hits and four runs tied career highs.
The 14 total bases were the most by a Reds player since Jeffrey Hammond did it in 1999, and it fell one short of the team record of 15, set by Walker Cooper in 1949.
Hoover making favorable impression on Reds
ATLANTA -- The closest right-hander J.J. Hoover got to Turner Field as a member of the Braves' organization was 12 games with Atlanta's Triple-A team in suburban Gwinnett last season.
The 24-year-old reliever reached the Majors quickly with the Reds, though, after being acquired for third baseman Juan Francisco at the end of Spring Training.
"I was definitely surprised with the trade," Hoover said. "I was pretty much in my truck ready to head to Gwinnett."
Hoover, who had been ranked by MLB.com as the Braves' No. 13 prospect, made eight appearances with Triple-A Louisville before being promoted to the Reds on April 24, when lefty reliever Bill Bray had to go on the disabled list because of a strained left groin. Hoover is now ranked as the Reds' No. 13 prospect on MLB.com's Top 20 Prospects list.
Although the Reds certainly wouldn't mind having Francisco back with Scott Rolen on the DL, Hoover has made a good early impression.
"The guy throws the ball well and throws strikes," manager Dusty Baker said. "He shows no fear, which is what you want coming out of the bullpen. ... With Bray and [Nick] Masset going down, we needed someone."
Hoover allowed three inherited runners to score last Tuesday against the Brewers, but he came into the Braves series with a 1.23 ERA in seven games and had given up only four hits and three walks in 7 1/3 innings while striking out seven.
Converted from a starter to a reliever late last June, Hoover posted a 0.82 ERA over 29 games in that role with Double-A Mississippi and Gwinnett last season.
"I'm just glad to be pitching," said Hoover, whose only visits to Turner Field before Monday were for Braves pitching camp prior to Spring Training. "It doesn't matter what role."
Phillips comes up clutch in homecoming
ATLANTA -- Brandon Phillips, who grew up in the Atlanta suburb of Stone Mountain, looks forward to his trip home each season. It won't be a very long visit this year, though.
"It [stinks]," the second baseman said of the brief two-game series at Turner Field that began Monday. "But I'll make the best of it. It is what it is."
As much as Phillips likes coming home, neither he nor the Reds have had all that much success against the Braves in Atlanta.
Since Phillips joined the team in 2006, the Reds were 8-11 at Turner Field before Monday and came into this series having won just one of the past six games.
Likewise, Phillips had hit just .224 in 18 games in Atlanta with six doubles, no homers and seven RBIs.
But Phillips came through with the big hit Monday night, driving in the tie-breaking run with an eighth-inning double in the 3-1 victory over the Braves.
"It feels good to do something here," he said. "This was a big win for us."
The Braves and Reds play four games in Cincinnati next week (May 21-24). In 40 games overall against Atlanta before Monday, Phillips had a .244 average with 12 doubles, five homers and 23 RBIs.
Now he can add another double and one more RBI.
Todd Frazier, filling in for Rolen, got his third straight start at third base in the series opener against the Braves. It was his seventh start there this season. Rolen, who went on the DL with a strained left shoulder Saturday, is eligible to return May 27.
Chris Heisey started in left field for the second straight game after Ryan Ludwick had started the previous two. The Reds had gotten little from the position so far this year. Heisey went into the Braves series batting .200, and Ludwick was at .184.
Zack Cozart was back in the lineup at shortstop on Monday after getting a day off on Sunday. Wilson Valdez started in his place in the series finale against the Nationals.
Guy Curtright is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.