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Votto grinding through tough season

Votto grinding through tough season

DENVER -- The 2009 season has required Reds first baseman Joey Votto to navigate twists and turns he hopes to never revisit again.

Votto's batting average is nearing a neighborhood it had yet to see this season. He was batting a season-low .301 on Monday after a 1-for-3 game in a 4-3 loss to the Rockies. He hasn't been below .300 all year.

A prolonged slump has notched Votto just three hits over his past 29 at-bats.

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"I've made some bad decisions at the plate lately," Votto said before Monday's game. "It's been a difficult year for me. I'm not using it as an excuse, but it's definitely been a factor. I feel kind of worn out lately. Every day has been kind of a battle to get through. I know it's baseball. This year in general has been a challenge."

Votto has missed games this season because of the flu, an inner-ear infection and dizzy spells. He also spent nearly a month on the disabled list dealing with depression and anxiety relating to the August 2008 death of his father.

Before going on the DL, Votto was batting .357 with a .464 on-base percentage. Since he returned on June 23, he's batting .273. Since Aug. 1, he's batted .203 with 36 strikeouts in 149 plate appearances.

"He probably will still have trouble for a while," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "The problems that are there aren't just going to leave. It takes time. We have to keep an eye on him. How long has he been back since he went out? Two months? It's not a very long period of time."

Votto is still the team leader with 22 home runs and second with 67 RBIs. In Monday's game, he had a blooped single in the fourth inning and a walk in the sixth.

"I think the best way to find a solution to my hitting problems is being more disciplined and having a better plan up there and doing a better job of executing," Votto said. "I haven't done a very good job of that lately. It's been a combination of concentration and being a little physically worn out. You have to be pretty perfect up there when you hit and you can't make very many mistakes. Guys usually capitalize on them. It's the level we are at. I've been making too many mistakes lately.

"I haven't been dealing with the same stuff I was dealing with when I was on the disabled list, but it's not like 100 percent [cured]. I guess it's a battle every day."

Pitching matchup
CIN: LHP Matt Maloney (0-3, 6.46 ERA)
Maloney got his opportunity to start when Justin Lehr was skipped in the rotation because of a sore right groin. Maloney pitched for Double-A Carolina on Thursday, allowing three hits and a run in seven innings. The 25-year-old made four starts for the Reds earlier this year but spent most of the season with Triple-A Louisville. He was 9-9 with a 3.08 ERA in 23 starts for the Bats. Maloney had 130 strikeouts to 26 walks in 150 innings with Louisville.

COL: RHP Jason Marquis (14-10, 3.75 ERA)
Marquis has received little run support in his past three outings, and he couldn't avoid the big inning in his past two, both losses. Marquis is still looking to tie his career high in wins, 15, and he has a maximum of six starts left to try to eclipse the Rockies' record for wins in a season -- 17, shared by Kevin Ritz (1995), Pedro Astacio (1999) and Jeff Francis (2007).

Reds notes
Still on rehab assignments with Louisville, Jay Bruce (fractured wrist) was 2-for-4 with a stolen base. Ryan Hanigan (concussion) was 1-for-3. ... the Bats concluded the regular season with a 4-2 loss and begin postseason play on Wednesday. ... In four career games at Coors Field, Jonny Gomes is batting .533 (8-for-15) with three homers and seven RBIs. Gomes hit a two-run homer, his 18th of the season, on Monday.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FS-O

On radio
• WLW 700

Up next
• Wednesday: Reds (Bronson Arroyo, 12-12, 4.23) at Rockies (Jason Hammel, 8-7, 4.41), 8:40 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Reds (TBD) at Rockies (Jose Contreras, 6-13, 5.19), 3:10 p.m. ET
• Friday: Reds (Johnny Cueto, 9-10, 4.39) at Cubs (Rich Harden, 9-8, 4.10), 2:20 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.

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