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Choo, Votto help Reds keep pace

MILWAUKEE (AP) ― Joey Votto contorted his body in the batter’s box as if he was trying to will his towering fly ball to stay fair as it sailed down the right field line.

It did. Barely.

The ball bounced off the foul pole for a two-run homer, helping the Cincinnati Reds keep pace in the NL Central race with a 7-3 victory Saturday over the Milwaukee Brewers.

Maybe Votto’s drive will be the spark that gets some of the Reds’ best hitters going down the stretch of a tight pennant chase. The Reds had lost three of their previous four.

“Every game, from my perspective, it’s as important in April as it is in September,” Votto said. “But, we’ve got a pretty good idea of what’s happening around you. You have an idea of who’s behind you and who’s ahead of you, how many games you need to make up.”

The Reds entered Saturday trailing the division-leading Cardinals by 3 1/2 games and the second-place Pirates by a game.

Cincinnati is also trying to fend off Washington in the wild-card race. 
Cincinnati Reds center fielder Choo Shin-soo hits a two-run home run in the second inning. (AP-Yonhap News)
Cincinnati Reds center fielder Choo Shin-soo hits a two-run home run in the second inning. (AP-Yonhap News)

The Nationals, on a seven-game winning streak, entered Saturday having pulled within 4 1/2 games of the Reds.

Homer Bailey (11-10) allowed three runs over seven innings in winning his career-best sixth straight decision.

Votto and leadoff hitter Choo Shin-soo each finished 2 of 3 with three RBIs and two-run homers.

“We scored enough runs and got a win,” Bailey said. “We needed it.”

Driving in runs has been a challenge for four of the Reds’ big bats in September. Brandon Phillips, Ryan Ludwick, Jay Bruce and Votto had combined for 13 RBIs in 12 games this month entering Saturday.

Manager Dusty Baker met privately with some hitters before the game. The Reds skipper declined to give details.

Regardless of who was in the meeting, and what was said, the bats broke through.

Fifth-place hitter Ludwick was 2 of 5, while No. 6 Todd Frazier went 2 of 4 with an RBI.

Votto said he waited at the plate during his homer only because he wasn’t sure if it would go foul.

Too bad for the Brewers.

“I was hoping that ball had a lot of hook in it,” manager Ron Roenicke said. “But it got up there and stayed there.”

The homer traveled an estimated 470 feet, tied with a long ball by Rickie Weeks in 2011 for the fourth-longest in the 11-year history of Miller Park.

The Brewers had a shot in the eighth after Jeff Bianchi was walked by Sam LeCure to load the bases with two outs for pinch-hitter Jonathan Lucroy.

Baker responded by bringing in All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman in the eighth. The last time he faced the hard-throwing closer, on Aug. 16 at Miller Park, Lucroy hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to give Milwaukee a 7-6 win.

Giants trounce Dodgers 19-3

LOS ANGELES (AP) ― Hunter Pence’s grand slam and career-high seven RBIs helped San Francisco romp past the Los Angeles Dodgers 19-3 Saturday night, the most runs they’ve ever given up at Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers’ magic number for clinching the NL West remained at four.

The last time the Los Angeles allowed 19 runs at home was on Sept. 12, 1961, when Philadelphia won 19-10 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in a game started by none other than Sandy Koufax. Dodger Stadium opened the next season.

Brandon Belt also homered and set career highs with five hits and six RBIs during the Giants’ 22-hit attack.

Tim Lincecum (10-13) won his fourth consecutive decision.

The two-time NL Cy Young winner allowed three runs and five hits over six innings and struck out six. It’s the first time Lincecum has won more than three straight decisions since a five-game string in early 2010.

Lincecum also singled twice and scored two runs.

Pinch-hitter Alex Castellanos, recalled by the Dodgers from Triple-A Albuquerque earlier in the day, homered on the first pitch he saw in the fifth.

Two pitches later, Lincecum plunked rookie sensation Yasiel Puig, drawing lusty boos from the sellout crowd of 53,062.

Puig ended up scoring on Adrian Gonzalez’s RBI single.

Ricky Nolasco (13-10) was charged with seven runs on seven hits and three walks in 1 1-3 innings. Errors by third baseman Juan Uribe and Puig in center field hurt him, too.

The reigning World Series champions scored three times in the first, including an RBI single by Pence. Lincecum got to bat before he ever threw a pitch, grounding out after a bases-loaded walk to Brandon Crawford.

Pence hit a two-run single in a four-run second.

Pence hit his fourth career slam in the fifth, connecting exactly one year after his previous one. His 23rd homer made it 12-1.

Boston 5, NY Yankees 1

Oakland 1, Texas 0

Toronto 4, Baltimore 3

Miami 3, NY Mets 0

Philadelphia 5, Washington 4

Pittsburgh 2, Chicago Cubs 1

Kansas City 1, Detroit 0

Cleveland 8, Chicago White Sox 1

Tampa Bay 7, Minnesota 0

Atlanta 2, San Diego 1

LA Angels 6, Houston 2

NY Mets 3, Miami 1

Seattle 4, St. Louis 1

Arizona 9, Colorado 2