Votto leads as countdown begins

Votto leads as countdown begins

NEW YORK -- Reds first baseman Joey Votto maintained his lead in the National League All-Star Final Vote in the latest update revealed Wednesday.

For the third straight day since the Final Vote began Sunday afternoon, Votto maintained his lead over the Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman, the Braves' Billy Wagner, the Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez and the Padres' Heath Bell.

The "Vote Red" campaign alliance between the Reds and Red Sox didn't get all good news. Although Votto is leading, Kevin Youkilis was overtaken by the Yankees' Nick Swisher and is in second place on the American League ballot. According to MLB.com, Swisher leads by less than one percentage point.

Votto entered Wednesday ranked fifth in the NL with a .316 average. His 21 home runs are tied for the league lead, and he is fifth with 59 RBIs this season. His 1.014 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) leads the league.

The All-Star Final Vote, sponsored by Sprint, continues until 4 p.m. ET Thursday on MLB.com, Reds.com and RedSox.com. Results will be revealed later that day. There is no limit to the number of times fans can vote.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.