One bit of news took the Cincinnati Reds from their season high point to a new low: They have to try to hold onto first place without Joey Votto.
The Reds had their six-game winning streak snapped on Monday night shortly after learning they’ll be without their best hitter for up to a month. Miguel Montero drove in four runs, and the Arizona Diamondbacks ended the Reds’ surge with a 5-3 victory.
All that seemed secondary to worries about a future without the 2010 NL MVP.
Shortly before the game started, the Reds got MRI results showing Votto has torn cartilage in his left knee and will be out for three to four weeks.
”He’s an MVP, a Gold Glover. What more can you ask in a guy?” said Todd Frazier, who filled in at first base. ”Injuries are huge in baseball. He’s got that presence. Whenever he is out there, he can do damage.”
Votto hurt his left knee while sliding on June 29, but kept playing because he didn’t think the injury was severe. He started for the National League in the All-Star game on Tuesday, and played all three games of a sweep over the St. Louis Cardinals that left Cincinnati alone in first place in the NL Central.
He didn’t have an MRI until Monday because he didn’t think he needed one.
”He didn’t request it until then,” general manager Walt Jocketty said. ”He said it wasn’t a problem until the last couple of days.”
Votto will have surgery on Tuesday, costing the Reds their top hitter. Votto is batting .342 and leads the NL in doubles, walks and extra-base hits.
Bronson Arroyo saw Votto before the game and got the bad news directly.
”He looked funny,” Arroyo said. ”I said, `Are you playing?’ He said, `No, I need surgery.’ At this time of year, if we can keep pressure on the other teams in our division and stay in the race — if we can weather the storm — he could give us a lift when he comes back.”
Things didn’t go so well in their first game without him.
The slumping Diamondbacks scored four runs in the first against Arroyo (4-6), who lasted a season-low three innings. The Reds had gotten impressive starts during a six-game winning streak that boosted them into first.
All-Star Wade Miley (10-5) gave up three runs in 5 2-3 innings. J.J. Putz gave up a hit in the ninth while getting his 17th save in 20 chances.
Arizona manager Kirk Gibson revamped his struggling lineup, which scored a total of three runs while getting swept over the weekend at Wrigley Field. The biggest switch was dropping Justin Upton, in a 1-for-10 slump, to the fifth spot for the first time this season.
The Diamondbacks scored four runs before making an out against Arroyo, who looked out of sync from his nine-day layoff over the All-Star break. Stephen Drew, Willie Bloomquist and Aaron Hill singled, and Montero, in a 6-for-32 slump, doubled home all three runners on Arroyo’s 10th pitch of the game.
Upton followed with a single for a 4-0 lead, getting the Reds’ bullpen busy. Montero led off the third with his ninth homer, making it 69 straight games at Great American Ball Park with at least one homer. It’s the longest streak since an 80-game stretch at Coors Field from 2002-03.
Arroyo was coming off a three-hit shutout in San Diego. He gave up eight hits and five runs in only three innings on Monday night, leaving after 48 pitches.
”I didn’t have good stuff,” Arroyo said. ”I had to (push) it to get it to 84 mph, and that hasn’t happened all year. Even if I got out of that first inning, I didn’t feel like I could go deep into the ballgame and put zeros on the board.”
Miley, who pitched in the All-Star game on Tuesday, also struggled at the start. The left-hander gave up an RBI double by Brandon Phillips in the first inning and a two-run single by Drew Stubbs in the second. He settled down after that hit, retiring the next 11 batters.
The Reds kept it at 5-3 with a weird play in the seventh. Bill Bray threw a ball over the plate after catcher Ryan Hanigan stepped out and put up his hand to complete an intentional walk to Chris Young. Montero tried to score from third, but was tagged out.
NOTES: The Reds plan to make a roster move on Wednesday. … The blister on RHP Johnny Cueto’s right index finger was better, so he’ll make his scheduled start on Tuesday against Arizona. … Diamondbacks OF Jason Kubel was out of the lineup for the third straight game because of a sore hamstring. Gibson said there was no thought of putting him on the DL for now. … Diamondbacks broadcaster Jeff Munn was in a Cincinnati chili parlor when President Obama walked in on Monday during a campaign visit.