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Votto ends HR drought, Reds' bats stay quiet

Cincinnati held to three hits as Hendricks dominates
@m_sheldon
May 14, 2019

CINCINNATI -- Mired in a season-long slump at the plate, Reds first baseman Joey Votto was without a home run since April 26. Meanwhile, not only has Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks been scorching from the mound of late, he hadn’t given up a homer since April 7. Both streaks were

CINCINNATI -- Mired in a season-long slump at the plate, Reds first baseman Joey Votto was without a home run since April 26. Meanwhile, not only has Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks been scorching from the mound of late, he hadn’t given up a homer since April 7.

Both streaks were broken on Tuesday, as Votto ended his long-ball drought with a homer to right-center field in the fourth. It was a rare moment in his eight-plus innings where Hendricks bent, but Cincinnati could not break him in a 3-1 loss at Great American Ball Park.

Box score

Batting .207/.323/.357 in 39 games, including a 3-for-25 stretch in May, Votto attacked a 1-1 sinker from Hendricks. According to Statcast, he got all of it, with an exit velocity of 106.4 mph before it carried an estimated 425 feet near the smokestacks beyond the right-center-field fence.

“That was good to see,” Reds manager David Bell said. “He’s been close for a while now. I think the home run was a good sign. He had good at-bats all night. He was taking good swings. He was aggressive. He’s going to get there. There have been signs recently that make me think he’s really close to going the way I know he wants to.”

During his career vs. Hendricks, Votto is 9-for-21 (.429) with three home runs. On Tuesday, he also lined out twice against the right-hander -- to left field in the first inning and center field in the sixth.

“It wasn't a terrible pitch,” Hendricks said of the home run offering. “He's such a tough at-bat for me. He's such a smart hitter and we've faced each other so much. It was maybe just a little bit down -- on a hip-shot, too. And I've gone in there a lot. He knew. He made an adjustment and just beat me and got to it. It's always a good cat-and-mouse game with him.”

Over his career, Votto has led the league in on-base percentage seven times and has batted .300 or better in eight of his 11 full seasons.

“He’s such a good hitter, it’s just a matter of time,” Bell said. “The contact has been good. He’s hit the ball hard. Watching him work, watching him at the plate, it looks like he’s comfortable and like it’s a matter of time.”

Bunt, double burn Roark

Besides giving up one earned run and three hits, Hendricks also went 3-for-4 as a hitter, and his two-out, two-run double off of Reds starter Tanner Roark in the top of the second inning proved to be the biggest hit of the game. But it was the play just before that set it up.

With the Reds' defensive shift leaving the left side open, Daniel Descalso dropped a perfect slow bunt single on the grass.

“The bunt started it all. By just totally giving it away right there and saying, 'Go ahead,' Daniel did the right thing,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.

Roark was the only player close enough to get to the ball and he made a desperation throw that wasn’t close to getting Descalso at first base.

"I was contemplating whether I should let it go foul or not,” Roark said. “I think it would have dropped dead right there [on the grass]. I like to make plays like that. The throw was a little off.”

Roark pitched five innings and allowed three runs on eight hits with one walk and six strikeouts. In the fifth inning, Willson Contreras’ sacrifice fly provided an insurance run for Chicago. But it was Hendricks who hurt the right-hander the most.

“That slider I didn't execute well that he hit for a double and scored the runs,” Roark said. “Other than that. I could do the same thing when I'm hitting. I've got to execute my pitches better and not say it's a pitcher up there and just get it over. You don't want those guys to beat you. It happened to me tonight. That's on me."

Odd swing

Pinch-hitting for the Reds with one out in the eighth inning, Kyle Farmer swung and missed on a fastball for strike three as Hendricks clocked him on the left shoulder for a unique strikeout.

“You don’t see it often, but with that movement, it wouldn’t surprise me if that’s happened before with Hendricks pitching,” Bell said. “You see it on pretty rare occasions where a guy will take a full swing like that. It says everything about the movement of his fastball, his sinker.”

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook.