PITTSBURGH -- Reds manager Dusty Baker had hinted for about a week that All-Star first baseman Joey Votto was in need of a day off. That day came on Wednesday.
Votto was not in the starting lineup for the finale against the Pirates, as rookie Mike Costanzo started in his place, while right fielder Jay Bruce moved up to Votto's third spot in the lineup. With the Reds off on Thursday, the break effectively gives him two days of rest.
"I talked to Joey about a week ago, and we came up with this day as the best day," Baker said. "I was a little apprehensive if two days in a row [off] would hurt his stroke. He said it was not going to bother him at all. Joey Votto knows Joey Votto pretty well. When a guy gets to a certain stature and certain prowess, you owe it to him and us to discuss it with him."
During a 2-1 Reds loss to Pittsburgh, Votto pinch-hit in the top of the ninth and delivered a one-out lined single to left field off Joel Hanrahan to represent the go-ahead run.
Votto, who was not in the clubhouse during the afternoon, entered Wednesday with 176 consecutive games played. That is the longest streak among active National League players. The Major League leader was the Tigers' Prince Fielder, with 230 games. The last time Votto missed a game was May 9, 2011. The last time he didn't start was Aug. 23.
Following his last total off-day, Votto went 7-for-14 over his next three games. He went 8-for-20 following the August break. He started 159 of his 161 games played in 2011, and played all but one inning in the Reds' first 49 games this season.
Votto, who is batting .321 with seven home runs and 29 RBIs, led the NL with 22 doubles and 43 walks entering Wednesday. His .460 on-base percentage was second in the league.
In his last 25 games, Votto batted .369 (31-for-84) with six homers and 14 RBIs.
"He's given us all he had," Baker said. "Cal Ripken's record is a long way from being in jeopardy. That's a record I respect, but Hank Aaron would always tell us to play 150 games. There are 10-12 games when your name is just ink on the lineup card and you're not a factor that day, either because you're tired or emotionally drained. I could see Joey wearing down the last week."