Votto helps Reds beat Pirates 13-1 to stay in playoff race

Sep 27, 2021, 1:42 AM | Updated: 3:30 pm
Cincinnati Reds' Joey Votto runs the bases after hitting a two-run home run during the first inning...

Cincinnati Reds' Joey Votto runs the bases after hitting a two-run home run during the first inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Cincinnati, Monday, Sept. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)

(AP Photo/Aaron Doster)

CINCINNATI (AP) — Joey Votto homered twice and drove in four runs, and the Cincinnati Reds pounded the Pittsburgh Pirates 13-1 on Wednesday to stay alive in the race for the second NL wild card.

Nick Castellanos, rookie Jonathan India and Eugenio Suarez also connected as Cincinnati (82-75) posted its fourth straight victory, clinching a second straight winning season. Castellanos had five RBIs, and India finished with four hits and scored four times.

“I’d be lying if I said Nick and I weren’t competing. Competition is in our nature. When he drives in runs it doesn’t affect me. I still have my chances,” Votto said. “I’m taking more chances and with that comes more outs but I knew I could hit more home runs and drive in more runs.”

The Reds pulled within 5 1/2 games of idle St. Louis for the second wild card. The Cardinals (87-69) need just one more win to secure the spot.

“It is tough to see anything when your overall goal is to make the postseason,” manager David Bell said of the team’s winning record. “Maybe when it’s all over we can enjoy the winning season.”

The 38-year-old Votto made a successful return to the lineup after missing two games with a sore left knee.

The first baseman hit a two-run shot off Connor Overton (0-1) during the Reds’ four-run first inning, and then connected for another two-run drive against Cody Ponce in the fourth. The six-time All-Star has 35 homers and 96 RBIs in his best season since he nearly won a second NL MVP award in 2017.

“I could have hit 50 home runs in my prime but I didn’t think it was as productive for the team,” Votto said. “I wanted to do what Juan Soto is doing, get on base a lot with a high average.”

Castellanos hit two sacrifice flies before belting his 33rd homer in the sixth, a three-run shot to center.

Reiver Sanmartin pitched 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball for Cincinnati in his big league debut. The 25-year-old left-hander struck out five and walked one in the makeup of a rainout last week.

“I was very impressed with Sanmartin,” Bell said. “It was just like we’ve heard about him. He threw strikes. I’m sure he enjoyed every minute of it.”

Sanmartin was promoted from Triple-A Louisville to step in for Wade Miley, who is on the injured list with a neck strain. Sanmartin became the first Cincinnati pitcher to win his first career start since Amir Garrett in 2017.

“I was pretty emotional all day,” Sanmartin said through a translator. “I wanted to prove to everyone I belong here. There were nerves in the beginning but after that I was able to concentrate.”

Anthony Alford had two hits for last-place Pittsburgh (58-98), including a double. Alford scored the Pirates’ run on Sanmartin’s wild pitch in the fifth.

“I think it was a combination of both the ballpark and our decimated rotation,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “I’m not going to take anything away from them. Cincinnati swings the bats good. They have good hitters, and it caught up with us. We didn’t execute pitches, and they hit them.”

ABOUT THIS YEAR

It’s the first winning record for Cincinnati in a 162-game season since it went 90-72 in 2013. The Reds went 31-29 in the 60-game 2020 season.

Cincinnati finished its home schedule with a 44-37 record.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Pirates: C Jacob Stallings was eligible to return from the seven-day concussion protocol list on Monday. Stallings has resumed baseball activities but has not been activated.

Reds: RHP Luis Castillo was placed on the family medical emergency list. He is scheduled to make his next start on Friday at Pittsburgh.

UP NEXT

Pirates: Open their final homestand of the season on Tuesday night against the Chicago Cubs. Mitch Keller (5-11, 5.96 ERA) starts for Pittsburgh, and Alec Mills (6-7, 4.96 ERA) pitches for Chicago.

Reds: Head to Chicago for a two-game series against the AL Central champion White Sox. RHP Riley O’Brien is slated to make his big league debut Tuesday night, and RHP Reynaldo López (3-3, 3.16 ERA) starts for the White Sox.

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Votto helps Reds beat Pirates 13-1 to stay in playoff race