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Votto continues torrid post-All-Star Game tear

ST. LOUIS -- While these aren't the salad days for the out-of-contention Reds, it's been a vintage stretch at the plate for first baseman Joey Votto.

Votto was 3-for-3 with a walk on Tuesday night, but it was his three-run home run in the top of the sixth inning that put the Reds ahead in a 4-0 win over the Cardinals.

In the first inning, Votto drew a two-out walk, and he followed with a single in the fourth inning. In the sixth, against lefty starter Jaime Garcia, he smoked a 1-0 pitch to straightaway center field for the homer that snapped a scoreless tie. And in the ninth against Randy Choate, Votto fought off a pitch for a double to left field and later scored an insurance run.

Over 12 games since the All-Star break, Votto has raised his average from .277 to .311, the highest point it's been since he was batting .315 on May 10. He's done it by hitting safely in 10 of those games, while batting .561 (23-for-41) with four homers and nine RBIs.

Votto has reached safely in his last five plate appearances, and 11 of the last 12.

"If you don't stop and really take a look at the box scores or my lineup card or whatever, I'd be underappreciating it, as anybody else who loves the Reds would be underappreciating a great stretch," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "It's phenomenal, because it's not just the base hits. It's laying off tough pitches, fouling off tough pitches to get the pitch he can handle and do something with."

Overall, Votto has 19 homers and is third in the National League with a .967 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.

"It would be more satisfying if we were winning more games and in the middle of a hunt," Votto said of his recent run. "In a way, it's kind of bittersweet. But everybody that puts a uniform on wants to do their job. They have to answer for themselves. I'm no different. I want to be able to garner the respect of my teammates, the satisfaction of my employer, and the appreciation of the fans."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.
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