CINCINNATI -- In Wednesday's 16-inning marathon loss, first baseman Joey Votto had seven chances to break out of his recent slump. Instead he struck out three times, hit into three groundouts and lined out once, his struggles reaching a new low.
Votto entered Thursday's finale against the Cardinals 0-for-his-last-10 and 3-for-his-last-34. Since stringing together an eight-game hitting streak at the end of July and early August, he batted .184 in 24 games before taking the field on Thursday, dropping his season average from .325 to .301.
Although Votto has started all 141 games this season, manager Dusty Baker doesn't believe the slump is the result of fatigue.
"Most times it's mental, not physical," Baker said. "We're all capable of that."
Baker has talked with Votto about taking a day off to rest and take a break from hitting. Votto was not interested in that, though, and now Baker said it's harder and harder to find a day that he could afford to be without his All-Star first baseman.
A good indication of how much Votto has been struggling came on Wednesday, when Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez pitched to him instead of walking him with a runner on second and first base open in the bottom of the 15th.
When asked about that decision on Thursday, Baker said, "People get bold when they think they got you down."
"It looks to me like for a while they've been coming right at him," he added. "When you're the top dog and they get you down, then they all enjoy beating on you. I told Joey, they're trying to make up for all the beating he was putting on them, you know what I mean?"
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. Jeremy Warnemuende is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.