CINCINNATI (AP) — Hunter Greene allowed one hit six innings in his first start in 11 days, Joey Votto homered on his 40th birthday and the Cincinnati Reds stopped a three-game losing streak with a 7-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday.
As fans serenaded him with “Happy Birthday,” Votto homered in the eighth off Andrew Suárez during his first game back after missing 16 with discomfort in his surgically repaired right shoulder. Jonathan India, Will Benson and TJ Friedl also hit solo home runs as Cincinnati avoided a three-game sweep.
The homer was the fourth of his career on his birthday.
“How many seasons have I played?," asked Votto, who's in his 17th season. "I’ve hit one in four on my birthday. I’m not worried about the first game. Frankly, I’m focusing on being available to play and help the team. That sounds cliche but that’s as sincere as I possibly can be.”
With Arizona's loss to the Cubs, the Reds (74-71) are fifth in the wild-card standings, 1 1/2 games behind the Diamondbacks for the third slot.
India also was playing his first game after missing 39 with left foot plantar fasciitis.
Greene (4-6), who had been sidelined with COVID-19 that kept him isolated in San Francisco for five days, gave up one unearned run and struck out nine. He walked four in the first four innings before settling down to retire his last seven batters. He threw 109 pitches.
“Walks were the frustrating part," said Greene, who struck out Luken Baker as his last batter. “Looking at the side of the game where you can be better and improve on in situations, I have to limit them. Overall being able to put guys away when I needed to,”
India hit the third pitch he saw since July 28 into the tunnel next to the Reds’ bullpen in left-center field leading off the third inning. One out later, Benson reached the seats in deep right-center field for a 2-0 lead.
Friedl added his solo shot to right in the seventh.
Nick Martini banged a run-scoring triple off the base of the right field wall during the Reds’ three-run sixth inning.
Miles Mikolas (7-11) fell to 1-6 over his last nine starts. He gave up seven hits and five runs with one walk and two strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings.
“It's frustrating," Mikolas said. "It's been a frustrating year. I've got a lot to work on. I'm making too many mistakes. I'm not getting ahead. I'm not putting guys away”.
The Cardinals (63-80) have lost 80 games for the first time since 2007 when they finished 78-84.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY II
Cardinals INF Paul Goldschmidt also celebrated a birthday on Sunday, but unlike Votto, the St. Louis first baseman got the day off. He is hitless in his last eight at bats with four strikeouts.
Cincinnati rookies have combined to tie the franchise record for home runs by rookies in a season with 54. The 2008 team, led by Votto's 24, also finished with 54. Spencer Steer leads this season's crew with 20.
Rookie INF Elly De La Cruz went 0-for-4 with one strikeout on Sunday and is hitless in his last 15 at bats with four strikeouts, including three looking on Saturday.
Cardinals: RHP Wilking Rodriguez (right shoulder pain) walked a batter in a hitless scoreless inning for Triple-A Memphis at Nashville on Saturday in the seventh appearance of his rehab assignment. “He came out good,” St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol reported Sunday morning.
Reds: INF Noelvi Marte was diagnosed with a nasal fracture after accidentally getting hit by a throw while tossing before Saturday’s game. His ability to play depends on how well he can breathe, manager David Bell said on Sunday.
Cardinals: RHP Dakota Hudson (6-1, 4.43 ERA, 35 strikeouts) is the scheduled starter in the opener of a three-game series on Monday at AL East-leading Baltimore.
Reds: LHP Brandon Williamson (4-4, 4.20, 87 strikeouts) is expected to be activated from the COVID-19 injured list to start the openers of a three-game series on Tuesday at Detroit.