Votto relishes chance to come through in win

Votto relishes chance to come through in win

CINCINNATI -- Although the hour was late and the game a marathon, Joey Votto had a perfect situation before him to come through and help the Reds win a game Wednesday night. Earlier in the night, Votto already lamented not coming through against the Pirates.

In the bottom of the 11th inning came a little redemption. Votto slashed an RBI single to right field that scored Zack Cozart for the 5-4 victory that gave Cincinnati a 2-0 record to open the season.

"We have all the confidence in the world in him," Cozart said. "We almost expect him to get a hit right there, because that's how highly we think of him. I had a good feeling he would get a big knock for us."

Against Radhames Liz, the final Pirates reliever available from the bullpen, Cozart was hit by a 76-mph slider with one out. A two-out walk by Billy Hamilton set the table for Votto. On a 1-1 count, Votto lined his hit for the walk-off winner.

"[Liz] threw an offspeed pitch, but it was elevated enough that he was able to fist it off the end of the bat into the outfield," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

Votto celebrated after Cozart slid safely ahead of a throw to the plate, and his teammates mobbed him between first base and the dugout.

"I wish I had come through earlier in the game when I had the opportunity. As long as we got the win," Votto said.

In the fifth inning of a 3-3 game with Hamilton on second base, Votto went down swinging for the first out against Gerrit Cole, who struck out the side. In the ninth with Hamilton on second base, Votto grounded out to second base.

A clutch two-out RBI single by Votto in the bottom of the seventh inning against Antonio Bastardo scored Hamilton from second base and made it a 4-4 game. With Todd Frazier batting, Votto stole second base without a throwing attempt, but he slid into the bag.

Votto's two-out RBI single

After Frazier struck out to end the inning, Votto's body language had the appearance of someone who might have not felt well. That's not routine, especially for a player who missed 100 games last season with a quad injury.

When asked what happened, Votto replied he was fine.

"I feel great. I really do feel great. Nothing at all," Votto said.

The start of the game was delayed two hours and 34 minutes due to rain. The game lasted another four hours and one minute. By the time the 11th rolled around, all Votto and the Reds really wanted was that victory.

"Especially at home with tomorrow's [day] game," Votto said. "It's just too little time to be able to put it in the rearview mirror. It was a good win, I thought, tonight. It was one of the tougher wins that we've had so far this year."

Votto laughed as he finished his sentence. Who could blame him for being punchy after a long, but fruitful, night at the ballpark?

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.