Joey Votto continues to play in a League of His Own.
Another game, another home run — eight in his last six games. Hitting home runs in six straight games is a club record. In addition, eight home runs in a six-game span is a club record.
Once Votto retires, he can live happily ever after in the Reds’ history book, but at age 37 he is rejuvenated after a couple of subpar season.
The Cincinnati Reds once again took apart a moribund and lethargic Chicago Cubs team, 7-4, Thursday afternoon in Wrigley Field.
With rumors of significant salary dumping by the Cubs before Friday’s trade deadline, Chicago Cubs manager David Ross kept his two best players, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, out the lineup.
The Cubs lineup was filled with slump-shrouded participants and Reds pitcher Luis Castillo took full advantage.
He held the Cubs to three runs over six innings, his eighth quality start in his last nine. And the Cubs helped out by hitting or running into three double plays.
The story of the day, though, was another down-range missile by Votto. He is a magician with a bat instead of a baton. He makes baseballs disappear. He uses a round bat against a round ball, but he continues to hit the ball squarely on commissioner Rob Manfred’s signature.
Votto was succinct in what his goal is this year on every at bat: “I’m trying to homer this year. That’s the difference. I’m trying to homer.”
And he puts it into a team concept.
“It’s cool, but I’m just happy to come up with wins,” he said. “And we’ve played good baseball lately and I just want to be part of it. We’re doing it as a team and we have big goals. That’s where my target is. I want to perform well and home runs are fun, the ultimate swing. But we’re trying to win as a group.”
His home run came in the first inning against Cubs starter Alec Mills. It came after a Jesse
Winker doubled, the fourth straight game Winker has produced an extra base hit.
Votto’s sixth homer in the four-game series tied Matt Carpenter and Jose Abreu for most home run in a series in Wrigley Field and gave the Reds a 2-0 lead.
The Cubs took a brief lead, 3-2, after rookie Patrick Wisdom homered in the fourth and Willson Contreras blasted a 464-foot two-strike, two-out home run in the fifth. Contreras stood momentarily admiring his moon shot and Castillo gave him the evil eye.
Castillo was so angry with that he threw two 100 miles per hour fastball to strike out the next hitter, Wisdom.
“I just hung one there for him and I was a little bit perturbed by what he did,” said Castillo. “He hit the home run and kept staring at it and it bothered me a little bit. I don’t do anything after strikeouts. That’s a batter’s thing.”
And Wisdom would like to thank Contreras for riling up Castillo so that his pitches to Wisdom arrived at home plate at the speed of sound.
Castillo also contributed a pair of infield hits at the plate and laughed and said, “Those were two hits my mom would be able to hit, too.”
The Reds quickly regrabbed the lead after the Contreras home run in the top of the sixth, 4-3. with a pair of runs after first baseman Wisdom bungled a double-play grounder. Tucker Barnhart made Wisdom and the Cubs pay with a two-run single to center.
Cincinnati put it away with three more runs in the seventh on a double that scored two runs and a sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter Aristides Aquino.
Manager David Bell once again went to a newly acquired relief pitcher for the eighth. Luis Cessa and Justin Wilson made their Reds debuts Tuesday with each producing a scoreless inning.
Mychal Givens, acquired Wednesday morning from the Colorado Rockies, arrived with an Olympic-style splash, a ‘10’ by striking out the side.
Of Castillo, now 5-and-10, Votto said, “We call him Nino. Every day he pitches is Happy Nino Day. It’s a celebration day because we’re excited that Luis Castillo gets to pitch. Today was Happy Nino Day and any time he takes the ball is a good day for the Reds.”
Kyle Farmer, batting third for the first time, had three hits, drove in a run and scored a run. Winker had two doubles and scored two runs.
“I’m watching careers blossom,” said Votto. “I’m watching players achieve their dreams. These are things when you are 10 or 15-years-old in bed that you dream about.
“Kyle Farmer came into spring training anticipating playing shortstop, lost his job, got his job back and now he is playing fantastic -- playing solid on both sides of the ball.”
The Reds took three of four from the Cubs, the last three after losing the opener. They move on to New York for a three-game series in Citi Field against the Mets.
Reds at Mets, 7:10 p.m., Bally Sports Ohio, 700, 1410