Votto looks to build on a big weekend while Bruce tries to shake out of his funk for the surging Reds in Monday's opener against the slumping Chicago Cubs at Great American Ball Park.
After hitting one home run in his first 17 games, Votto homered for the second straight day Sunday in a 10-6 win over Miami, the sixth victory in seven games for Cincinnati (11-8). Votto, who didn't homer in his final 40 games of 2012, is 7 for 11 in his last two contests, raising his batting average to .328 and his on-base percentage to .522 - just shy of teammate Shin-Soo Choo's major league-best .523."I told you he was going to hit," Baker said. "If you can hit, you'll hit. You don't just stop hitting."
Baker's philosophy doesn't relate to Bruce, however.
Bruce led the Reds with 34 homers and 99 RBIs last season, but is still seeking his first home run of 2013. He has 26 strikeouts with eight RBIs, with just three coming in the last 12 games.
"Now we have to get Bruce going with a couple of home runs and some RBIs," Baker told the Reds' official website. "Jay is in that position where he gets a lot of opportunities ... The guys hitting in front of him are on base."
Bruce hit .381 with a homer in six home games against the Cubs last season, and that blast came off scheduled starter and former teammate Travis Wood (1-1, 1.83 ERA).
Wood was tagged for seven run in five innings in his return to Cincinnati last August, but has been sharp this season for the Cubs (5-12).
The left-hander has one of the league's lowest ERAs and is limiting opponents to a .191 batting average, but has been backed by two total runs of support.
Wood isn't the only pitcher the Cubs, losers of six of seven, aren't hitting for. In getting swept in Milwaukee over the weekend, Chicago plated three runs in the final two games and went 1 for 17 with runners in scoring position in the series."Once again, we only had five hits and one of them was a two-run homer and we didn't score in the other eight innings," manager Dale Sveum said after Sunday's 4-2 defeat. "We were o-fer with men in scoring position. It's just a broken record every day."
They'll try to get things turned around against Mike Leake (1-0, 4.26), who allowed three hits and didn't walk a batter in seven shutout innings in Wednesday's 11-2 win over Philadelphia. The right-hander, who yielded nine runs over 12 innings in his first two starts, struck out seven, walked none and matched a career best with three hits of his own."I needed a good performance more than the three hits, but it helped," he said. "I was mixing and matching, going after them and staying convicted to your pitch rather than being scared. It's an attitude thing for me."
Leake went 0-1 with a 6.11 ERA in three starts against the Cubs last season - all at Wrigley Field. He is 3-0 with a 2.12 ERA in four starts against them at Great American Ball Park.
Starlin Castro , batting .333 during a 13-game hitting streak, is 11 for 28 (.393) lifetime against Leake.
Castro's counterpart at shortstop, Zack Cozart , is back in Cincinnati's lineup just two days after suffering what he thought was a broken finger when he was hit by a pitch. X-rays were negative and the finger made a quicker-than-expected recovery.
Cozart is hitting .333 in his last eight games.
|April 14, 2013||Steve Clevenger||60-Day DL||Left oblique strain|
|April 13, 2013||Steve Clevenger||Day-to-Day||Left oblique injury|
|April 13, 2013||Kyuji Fujikawa||15-Day DL||Strained right forearm|
|March 31, 2013||Darwin Barney||15-Day DL||Left knee laceration|
|March 31, 2013||Scott Baker||60-Day DL||Strained right elbow|
|March 31, 2013||Darwin Barney||15-Day DL||Left knee laceration|
|April 20, 2013||Zack Cozart||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised right hand|
|April 20, 2013||Ryan Hanigan||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|April 14, 2013||Johnny Cueto||15-Day DL||Strained right lat|
|April 13, 2013||Johnny Cueto||Day-to-Day||Right triceps injury|
|April 08, 2013||Sean Marshall||15-Day DL||Left shoulder tendinitis|
|April 02, 2013||Ryan Ludwick||Day-to-Day||Torn cartilage in right shoulder|
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Reds manager Dusty Baker 's mind was worn out from another long, long game. At least he could smile.
The Chicago Cubs ? Numb, just like always.
Jay Bruce hit a tying double and scored on Cesar Izturis ' two-out single in the 13th inning Monday night, rallying Cincinnati to a 5-4 victory that gave the Cubs their fourth straight loss.
The Reds used seven pitchers, 11 position players and one pinch hitter during their latest overtime win, this one lasting 4 hours, 35 minutes.
"I'm worn out from thinking - double-switching, trying to keep the pitchers in as long as we could," Baker said. "That was a good one to win - a great one. That's one of the best comebacks I've seen."
Luis Valbuena hit a two-run homer in the top of the 13th off Alfredo Simon (2-1) for a 4-2 Cubs lead. But like so many other times this season, Chicago couldn't pull out a close game.
Michael Bowden (0-1) gave up a single by Xavier Paul , Brandon Phillips ' double and Bruce's two-run double that tied it. Bruce moved up to third on Todd Frazier 's groundout.
Izturis then lined a single past diving shortstop Starlin Castro , sending the Reds to their seventh victory in eight games on their homestand.
Long games are the norm in Cincinnati, where the Reds have gone extra innings four times and had another game suspended overnight because of rain. They've played 13 innings three times.
"Long game," Izturis said. "I'm glad we got the win. When you go down two runs it's hard to get back in it, but we did it."
The Cubs have dropped seven of eight and 12 of 15, leaving them in last place in the NL Central at 5-13. They've become accustomed to losing close ones - all 18 of their games have been decided by four runs or fewer.
"It's hard to be down," Cubs starter Travis Wood said. "It's not like we're getting blown out every game. We're right there. We've just got to figure out a way to pull them out."
The game matched two starters who recently went head-to-head for the fifth spot in Cincinnati's rotation. Both gave up a pair of runs and didn't figure in the decision.
Wood, who was Cincinnati's second-round draft pick in 2005, couldn't hold a 2-0 lead in the seventh. Bruce led off with his first homer of the season and Chris Heisey singled. Jack Hannahan came off the bench and hit a triple off James Russell - his fifth pinch hit of the season - to tie it.
Wood was traded to the Cubs along with two minor leaguers for reliever Sean Marshall after the 2011 season, when the Reds chose to keep right-hander Mike Leake at the back of their rotation. Leake, who was Cincinnati's top pick in the June 2009 draft, had never pitched against Wood before.
David DeJesus opened the game with a home run on Leake's third pitch, the 13th leadoff homer of his career. Castro's RBI single in the third inning made it 2-0 and gave him a 14-game hitting streak, matching the best of his career. It's the longest active streak in the majors.
Cincinnati shortstop Zack Cozart was back in the lineup after missing one game with an injured index finger. He got hit by a ball while trying to bunt on Saturday and initially thought it was broken. X-rays were negative.
Yet another Reds player got hurt Monday, though.
Reliever Jonathan Broxton left in the eighth inning after knocking down Nate Schierholtz 's liner up the middle. A trainer examined Broxton's right hand, and the pitcher flexed it several times before leaving the game. X-rays were negative.
The defending NL Central champions have been hit hard by injuries. Marshall, top starter Johnny Cueto , cleanup hitter Ryan Ludwick and catcher Ryan Hanigan are on the disabled list.
Shin-Soo Choo kept getting hit - and getting on base - at a phenomenal pace. Wood hit him in the right arm with a pitch in the sixth. Choo has been hit by pitches 10 times already, a Reds record for one month. It's the most times a major leaguer has been hit by a pitch in a month since Houston's Craig Biggio was plunked 10 times in August 1997.
Choo has reached base safely in 14 of his 18 plate appearances over the last three games.
NOTES: Marshall started a rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville. He hasn't pitched this season because of shoulder tendinitis. ... Castro also hit in 14 games from the end of the 2011 season through the start of 2012. ... The Reds have fanned at least 10 batters in five straight games for the first time in modern franchise history.
Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apjoekay