Votto, the 2010 National League MVP Award winner who had two arthroscopic surgeries to repair torn meniscus cartilage in his left knee, was in the Reds' lineup for the first time since July 15. An appreciative crowd of 19,267 cheered loudly when he took the field to warm up pregame.
Fans followed with a standing ovation as Votto stepped into the batter's box for his first plate appearance.
"I was very humbled by it and very appreciative any time I get support like that," Votto said. "They exceeded my expectations."
Votto didn't exactly get an easy return, as he had to face Phillies ace Roy Halladay.
"I can't believe it worked that he was my first game back -- thank you, baseball gods," Votto joked, despite coming in with a .375 average lifetime vs. Halladay.
In his first at-bat in the bottom of the first inning, Votto lined a two-out single to left field. After walking in the fourth, Votto sent a single into center field with one out in the sixth.
"Joey was fine," manager Dusty Baker said. "I think those rehab days really helped him. I asked him in the seventh -- I was thinking of taking him out at that point -- and he said he was feeling OK. That's [a] big [day] tomorrow, a day off for him and his legs. He'll be ready on Friday."
Votto had a chance to try sliding into second base when he made an attempt to break up a double play. It was sliding that originally caused his injury, as well as the August setback that required a second operation.
"I was a little apprehensive. I did go in gingerly," Votto said. "I have had a few slides that have given me trouble. I have to get over that, and I will at some point."
In the eighth inning with one out, Halladay was replaced by lefty Antonio Bastardo -- specifically to face Votto. On a 3-2 slider, Votto went down looking at a called third strike.
Overall, the knee passed its first Major League game test. Votto played five games on a rehab assignment in the Minors.
"It held up pretty well until Bastardo buckled it," Votto joked. "I had no problems at all. If we had a game tomorrow, I would be more than happy to play.
"I had all that energy and fire inside of me that I had to sit on for that extended period of time. I wanted to get out there. I didn't really have a problem with giving away at-bats before, but that time off really hit home that you don't know what's going to happen next. That's reason enough not to take anything for granted and get after it."