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Votto returns to action as pinch-hitter

Votto returns to action as pinch-hitter

SAN DIEGO -- For the third straight game, first baseman Joey Votto was unable to start for the Reds on Friday because of a sinus infection. But he appeared as a pinch-hitter in the top of the ninth inning during a 4-3 loss to the Padres.

Votto struck out on three pitches against Padres closer Heath Bell. He could start the second game of the series vs. San Diego on Saturday afternoon.

"I'm hoping he's OK [Saturday]. We've got him on medication," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "Heath Bell is not the guy you'd choose to have him go up against after being out three days. In that situation, Joey said he was available to pinch-hit. That was a prime situation against a very tough guy throwing 95, 96 mph."


Ramon Hernandez, normally the catcher, started at first base.