CINCINNATI (AP) — A medium-deep fly ball by Joey Votto would've done the trick. He did better than that.
Votto hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the eighth inning, lifting the Cincinnati Reds over the Cleveland Indians 4-2 Monday in the opener of their intrastate matchup.
"I just wanted to put the barrel on the ball and at least get a sacrifice fly," said Votto, who began the day leading the NL in hitting at .353. "It was important to not strike out there or roll over and put the ball on the ground."
Votto won this interleague game with his ninth homer, tagging left-hander Nick Hagadone (0-1). The reliever was called up from Triple-A earlier in the day when closer Chris Perez was put on the disabled list with a sore right shoulder.
Shin-Soo Choo led off the Reds' eighth with a single and moved around on a passed ball and Zack Cozart's sacrifice bunt. With the Indians' infield drawn in, Votto followed with an opposite-field shot into the seats in left, lifting the Reds to their sixth win in their last seven games.
Votto's homer came with NL RBIs leader Brandon Phillips on deck, followed a conference on the mound. Reds manager Dusty Baker was asked if he was surprised first-year Cleveland manager Terry Francona pitched to Votto instead of perhaps walking him to face Phillips, who'd already hit into one double play in the game.
"I never second-guess the other team's manager," Baker said. "You've got to take your shot at some point in the game. Votto won that time."
The conversation dealt with how to approach Votto, Francona said.
"Hagadone has great stuff," he said. "We wanted to pound Votto inside and not let him get his arms extended. It's part of the learning experience, but a pitcher also has to pitch to a comfort zone. If we'd have walked him, it wouldn't have been the end of the world."
Hagadone refused to blame his inexperience.
"It was supposed to be a fastball away," he said. "Even if I'd been up here all year, I'd have been upset."
Choo, traded from the Indians to the Reds in the offseason, also hit a leadoff homer in the first.
Jason Giambi tied it in the Indians' eighth with a long pinch-hit homer. The solo shot was estimated at 467 feet and caromed off the batter's background in center field. His ninth career pinch-hit homer ended his 0-for-24 slump and was third homer of the season and first since April 20.