HOUSTON -- Joey Votto was not in Cincinnati's starting lineup on Monday for the first time this season, with Ramon Hernandez replacing Votto at first base.
Reds manager Dusty Baker felt Monday was as good a day as any in giving the reigning National League MVP a day off against Houston right-hander Aneury Rodriguez. Following a three-game series in Houston, the Reds have an off-day on Thursday, then play on 20 straight days.
"I thought of all the days ... it would be today," said Baker. "You got [Astros starter Brett] Myers tomorrow and Wandy [Rodriguez] the next day. Then we got the Cardinals, the Cubs, Pirates, Cleveland, the Phillies, Atlanta, Milwaukee. A tough stretch. Through a process of elimination, today was the day."
Votto, whose streak of reaching base safely to start a season ended at 33 games on Sunday after he went 0-for-4, entered Monday leading the NL in runs (27) and walks (29) and was among the league leaders in almost every other category.
Miguel Cairo was a candidate to replace Votto on Monday at first base. But Cairo played all nine innings on Sunday in Chicago and has been bothered by a sore right knee.
"Plus, Hernandez is a pretty good first baseman, and Hernandez is one of our hottest hitters right now," said Baker. "Last night, he was asking who's playing first today? He likes playing first and he works at it. He works every day. Shortstop, first base. "
Primarily a catcher, Hernandez entered the game hitting .303 with two home runs and 10 RBIs. His five-game hitting streak was the longest active streak on the team.
During the Reds' 6-1 victory, Hernandez went 1-for-5 with a two-run homer in the fourth inning.