Lack of protection in the lineup has caused opponents to pitch around former MVP Joey Votto and limited his HR total to two through his first 32 games. Sunday he showed why that is not a bad option when he had the second three-homer game of his career capped off with a walk-off grand slam.

After a three and one half hour rain delay Cincinnati rewarded their fans faithful enough to hang around with a walk-off win on Mother's Day. The Reds were seeking to avoid a home sweep to Washington when trailing the Nationals 6-2. They jumped out to 1-0 lead in the first inning when Joey Votto drove an outside pitch over the left field wall. His second shot was a massive drive to center in the fourth and tied the score at two. They were playing catch-up again in the eight when Votto's double put two runners in scoring position. With two outs rookie Bryce Harper misplayed Jay Bruce's fly ball into a double to cut the score to 6-5.

In the ninth the Nationals handed the ball to fireballer Henry Rodriguez who overpowered the Reds the previous night for his eighth save. This time they exploited control issues starting with Ryan Hanigan who got ahead 3-0 before hitting a single. Two outs later pinch runner Devin Mesoraco was on second when Drew Stubbs and Chris Heisey walked to load the bases. It was an unenviable situation for the National closer who fell behind Votto and nearly allowed the tying run on two breaking pitches in the dirt. Votto then walked off with the second grand slam of his career. Sean Marshall threw a scoreless inning in the top of the ninth to be the pitcher of record.

Lack of protection in the lineup limits Votto's opportunities and forced manager Dusty Baker to pull Brandon Phillips from leading off to cleanup. He leads the league in both intentional walks (6) and "unintentional" ones (31 total). Fortunately for the Reds Rodriguez did not have that option Sunday when protecting a one-run lead with bases loaded.

Votto had only two homers coming into the game. Despite that he was still slugging almost .500 while leading the league in doubles. He's now hitting .319 with a .466 on-base pct. He drew a lot of attention before the season when small market Cincinnati inked him to a ten year extension with the fourth $200+M contract in baseball history. Performances like the second three-homer game of his career on Sunday go a long way toward justifying that investment.

News from the Farm:

Louisville was rained out at home against Lehigh Valley and will make it up with a double header on Monday.

Pensacola resumed a suspended game in the second inning and swept Birmingham 8-0 and 4-2 at Blue Wahoo Field. Kyle Lotzkar took the mound in the first game in what was technically a relief appearance, but in reality a strong starting effort. In the right-hander's second appearance since being promoted from Bakersfield he threw six plus innings of two-hit, shutout baseball. He did walk five while striking out six en route to his first win at the AA level. Offensively the Wahoos were led by former major league catcher Koyie Hill who went 3-3 with a walk and his first home run. Brandon Phillips's younger brother P.J. also had three hits. Brodie Greene and Josh Fellhauer added two hits each.

In the second abbreviated game the Wahoos broke a tie in the bottom of the sixth with back-to-back solo shots by Cody Puckett and Yordonys Perez. It was Puckett's sixth of the season which leads the team and the first longball of Perez's career. The Wahoos took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on Josh Fellhaur's first homer. Mark Serrano allowed two runs and left a tie game before Curtis Parch pitched a scoreless sixth and got his first win. Donnie Joseph retired the side in the final frame for his sixth save. This season Joseph has allowed only one run in 16 appearances.

Bakersfield had the day off and will resume their schedule at home Monday against Stockton. Justice French is expected to make his second start since being promoted from Dayton.

Dayton lost their second game of a home series against Lansing. The Lugnuts took a four run lead early and held on to win 6-3. Steve Selsky and Juan Silva had two hits each for the Dragons. Starter Dan Jenson failed to make it out of the fourth inning and lost his fourth game of the season.

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