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Slump appears over as Votto hits two homers

Slump appears over as Votto hits two homers

Slump appears over as Votto hits two homers
BALTIMORE -- Reds first baseman Joey Votto still has offensive numbers that the majority of Major League players would envy -- even when he's in a slump.

Votto, the 2010 National League Most Valuable Player, showed during the Reds' 10-5 win over the Orioles on Saturday that he knows how to navigate his way out of a funk, too. He went 3-for-4 with two home runs and tied a career high with five RBIs.

"That was a big night. We need him badly," Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

  • 131 wins
  • 121 wins

Votto entered Saturday batting .314, his lowest average since he was hitting .300 on April 3. In his previous 11 games, he hit .182 (8-for-44) with 11 strikeouts and a .250 on-base percentage. He also hadn't delivered a homer since June 13 against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

After he fouled off a pair of 0-2 pitches from Brian Matusz in the third inning, Votto worked the count full and then went deep to right-center field for a three-run home run. It gave him 100 homers for his career.

In the fifth, after a Brandon Phillips double, Votto hit a 2-1 Matusz pitch for a two-run homer into right-center field -- his 11th of the season.

Pitchers have given Votto fewer strikes to work with this season, but before the game he said he didn't believe that's what was behind his slowed production of late. Technical glitches in Votto's swing, he said, have been spotted by Baker, hitting coach Brook Jacoby and teammate Edgar Renteria.

"Right now, I think they're going after me the exact same way as last year. I haven't responded yet," Votto said. "It's hard for me, even watching video, to see some of the technical mistakes I'm making. But luckily I have some good people surrounding me, and they've pointed out some things that were off a little bit with my swing and causing me to miss a lot of the pitches I've been given lately. Over the past month, I've been getting plenty of pitches to hit. I haven't been taking advantage of them. It's a mechanical thing. It's my fault."

Votto, who was 1-for-6 with an RBI double in Friday's 12-inning loss to Baltimore, has been putting in the work. He was at Camden Yards earlier than usual on Saturday. A few of the mistakes that have been exposed are so minute, they were difficult to notice.

"For hitting a baseball, for hitting success, those smaller adjustments can really make a big difference," Votto said. "I kept scratching my head wondering, 'What the hell is going on? Why am I not driving the ball? Why am I missing certain pitches I wasn't missing before?' It helps when you've got good eyes on you. It takes time. This will pass. With or without their help, I'm going to get through this."

Votto entered the night with nine home runs and 44 RBIs on the season. His .436 OBP, 57 walks and .424 average with runners in scoring position lead the NL.

"He's coming. He hit the ball hard last night twice," Baker said.

Votto last got a day off on May 9 at Houston, and followed it with a pretty strong tear. However, Baker has no immediate plans to give his best hitter a rest -- especially due to the tough Reds schedule leading up to the All-Star break.

"Now is the time you dig deep and try to play through the break. I thought about it," Baker said. "He's just off. He's not tired. They're pitching him tough. The American League clubs are pitching him real tough. He may be frustrated, but he's not physically tired.

"One thing is, he's showing he's human. Sometimes you forget that stars are human and capable of ups and downs. We've just been so spoiled because he has very few extended down periods. One thing for sure is you know he's going to get hot again. Count on it."

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.

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