Votto making a case for rookie honors

Votto making case for rookie honors

CINCINNATI -- Cubs catcher Geovany Soto has likely locked up the National League rookie of the year race. That doesn't diminish the year that Reds rookie first baseman Joey Votto is having.

Votto went 2-for-5 in Thursday's 8-6 comeback win over the Pirates, including a leadoff homer in the fifth inning. His bases-loaded RBI single in the eighth scored the go-ahead run.

Over Votto's past 26 games, he's batting .387 (36-for-93), and he has hit safely in 10 of his past 13 games while going 22-for-50 (.440).

"It's just one of those stretches, I don't know why," said Votto, who has homered in consecutive games. In August, he batted .382 and led the club with 18 RBIs.

Soto is batting .294 with 21 homers and 80 RBIs with a .371 on-base percentage. Votto isn't too far behind while batting .294 overall with 17 homers and 67 RBIs. He has a .360 on-base percentage.

"He's a clutch RBI man," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He's getting better, that's what I like. He's getting more confident and more comfortable."

Pitching matchup
CIN: RHP Bronson Arroyo (13-10, 4.97 ERA)
Arroyo, the reigning NL Co-Player of the Week, has been on a nice roll. He has a three-start winning streak and posted a 2.62 ERA in five August starts. Since a June 24 debacle at Toronto where he lasted just one inning and allowed 10 runs, he's won nine of his past 12 starts. During Sunday's 9-3 victory over the Giants, Arroyo gave up two earned runs and 10 hits without a walk and five strikeouts over seven innings.

CHC: LHP Ted Lilly (13-8, 4.23 ERA)
Lilly is 0-3 against the Reds this season. He is coming off a loss to the Phillies in which he gave up three runs on six hits over 6 2/3 innings. The veteran lefty is 14 strikeouts shy of tying his career high of 174, set last season. Lilly also ranks among the NL leaders in home runs allowed, having served up 30 this year. Lilly has gone at least six innings in nine straight starts.

Short hops
Wilkin Castillo had his hand stepped on by Pirates pitcher Craig Hansen at the plate as he slid and scored on a wild pitch in the eighth inning Thursday. It was an awkward play where Castillo tried to get around Hansen. Baker said the rookie must be more more aggressive. "[Hansen] blocked the plate on him," Baker said. "In that situation, you have to slide through him. It's part of the learning process." ... Jeff Keppinger snapped a 0-for-10 skid with an RBI double in the fourth inning Thursday. ... Chris Dickerson has a seven-game hitting streak.

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Up next
• Saturday: Reds (Johnny Cueto, 8-12, 4.65) vs. Cubs (Jason Marquis, 9-8, 4.46), 7:10 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Reds (Aaron Harang, 4-15, 5.24) vs. Cubs (Sean Marshall, 3-4, 4.03), 1:15 p.m. ET
• Monday: Reds (Edinson Volquez, 16-5, 3.12) at Brewers (TBD), 8:05 p.m. ET

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