Votto hits 3-run HR, Mahle sharp in return as Reds top Cards

CINCINNATI (AP) — Joey Votto hit a three-run homer to back Tyler Mahle’s sharp return from injury, and the Cincinnati Reds beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-3 on Sunday.

The last-place Reds overcame Paul Goldschmidt’s two opposite-field homers to take two of three in the series. They’ve won eight of their last 12 games.

“They beat us a couple of times in St. Louis,” Cincinnati manager David Bell said. “Then we come back and win a series against a really good team. It keeps us going in the right direction.”

The only hits allowed by Mahle in six innings were Goldschmidt’s two home runs, giving him four in the series and 24 this season. The slugger launched a two-run drive to right in the fourth and a solo shot in the sixth.

Goldschmidt, who also homered in the All-Star Game on Tuesday at Dodger Stadium, hit at least one in each game of the series. But he won’t be available for St. Louis’ next game.

Before their finale in Cincinnati, the Cardinals announced that Goldschmidt and star third baseman Nolan Arenado — two of their best players — won’t make the trip to Toronto for a short series with the Blue Jays because they haven’t received the COVID-19 vaccination.

Backup catcher Austin Romine also will not be going to Canada with the team for games Tuesday and Wednesday. Canada has restrictions on travelers who aren’t vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Mahle (4-7) came off the injured list and allowed three runs with three walks and five strikeouts.

“Probably I wasted some pitches, like some off speed that I couldn’t get over, but I was happy with my fastball and the outcome,” Mahle said. “I felt good.”

Mahle hadn’t pitched since July 2 due to a right shoulder strain.

“We know what he does,” St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol said. “He does a good job. He pitches in the top of the zone. He beats you up top.”

Reiver Sanmartin and Alexis Díaz each worked a scoreless inning before Hunter Strickland got three popups for his team-high fifth save. The four pitchers combined to limit St. Louis to three hits

Miles Mikolas (7-8) gave up seven hits and six runs with two walks and four strikeouts over five innings in his first start since July 16.

“I think I had a good breaking ball,” Mikolas said. “There wasn’t a lot of hard-hit stuff. They doinked me to death.”

Tyler Naquin drove in a run with a single in the fourth and got caught in a rundown trying to steal second, allowing Matt Reynolds to scamper home from third for a 6-2 lead.

Votto followed Tommy Pham’s bases-loaded sacrifice fly with his eighth homer of the season and second of the series, a fly ball to left-center that bounced off the yellow padding atop the fence and into the crowd. Votto also hit a solo homer on Friday.

“It was a really good sign for me,” Votto said. “I’ve been struggling against all kinds of pitches. I haven’t really been driving the ball well to left-center. It was good to do it on an off-speed pitch. Hitting the ball the opposite way opens up the rest of the field. It is part of my game.”

BEEN A WHILE

Goldschmidt has homered in each of St. Louis’ last four games against the Reds. The last Cardinals player to homer in four straight games versus Cincinnati was Chick Hafey in 1929.

BASE HIT

Reynolds’ fourth-inning bouncer up the middle caromed off second base and over the heads of the Cardinals’ middle infielders for a single.

MOVING UP

Albert Pujols’ pinch-hit appearance in the seventh marked his 3,026th major league game, tying him with Stan Musial and Eddie Murray for sixth on the career list.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: LHP Steven Matz was diagnosed with a left knee sprain, an injury he sustained while trying to field Votto’s dribbler up the first base line on Saturday.

Reds: 2B Jonathan India (bruised left thigh) was scratched from the original starting lineup. He was injured scoring with a headfirst slide on Saturday. … RHP Jeff Hoffman (right forearm tightness) was placed on the 15-day injured list.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: After a day off Monday, RHP Andre Pallante (3-4, 3.34 ERA) is scheduled to start Tuesday’s opener of the two-game series against the Blue Jays.

Reds: LHP Nick Lodolo (2-3, 5.81) goes Monday against the Marlins. He’s given up a combined 14 hits and eight runs in seven innings over his last two starts.

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