SAN DIEGO (AP) — Joey Votto didn’t wait long to make an impact as the Cincinnati Reds’ leadoff batter Thursday night.
Votto drove rookie Chris Paddack’s third pitch of the game over the fence in right-center field for his first career leadoff homer, sparking the Reds to a 4-1 win over the San Diego Padres. Tucker Barnhart and Jesse Winker also connected for the Reds, who snapped a four-game losing streak.
Votto, 35 and in his 14th big league season, was batting leadoff for the third straight game and just the fourth time in his career.
“Starting off right away with the lead always feels really good. No matter who scores that run, as long as it’s someone in our uniform, that’s priority No. 1,” said Votto, a six-time All-Star and the NL MVP in 2010.
“It’s great. As well as our pitching has performed this year, giving these guys an early lead and letting them feel like they can concentrate on snagging the win … I don’t know the mind of a pitcher but I can’t imagine it wouldn’t help,” Votto said.
Paddack was making his fourth career start.
“That’s just kind of a veteran telling a rookie, ‘Hey, welcome to the show’ type deal,” Paddack said. “Obviously I learned from that mistake tonight, but overall I was very pleased with my performance.”
Padres manager Andy Green said Paddack “tried to sneak three fastballs by Votto to start the game. It’s tough to do. He’s one of the best hitters in the game. It’s tough to do the same thing over and over again and get him out.”
Said Paddack: “Votto let me know real soon that being a veteran guy, I thought I could blow a heater by him but I kind of missed my spot, top of the zone a little bit. Looking back, we go 0-2 change-up there, I think he swings and misses, but hey, it already happened.”
Roark certainly appreciated the quick lead.
“It’s a great feeling. It lets you go out there and pitch with even more confidence,” he said. “The biggest thing for pitchers is when we put up runs to go out there the next inning and have a shutdown inning. One, two, three, get these guys back in, get their groove going, get them swinging the bats like they did tonight.”
The Padres, who had a three-game lead in the NL West on Saturday, have lost four straight for the first time this year and trail the Los Angeles Dodgers by 1 ½ games.
Barnhart, batting ninth while Roark batted eighth, hit a two-run shot to right with two outs in the fifth. The homer was upheld after a video review. Winker homered off Phil Maton with one out in the ninth, his fifth.
“We just really had a good team win tonight,” manager David Bell said.
Roark (1-0) earned his first win in his fourth start. He held the Padres to one run and four hits in 5 1/3 innings, struck out five and walked two. Raisel Iglesias struck out the side in the ninth for his third save.
The Padres put runners on first and second with one out in the sixth to chase Roark. Zach Duke came on and struck out Eric Hosmer before Robert Stephenson came on and allowed Manny Machado’s ground-rule double. He then struck out Franmil Reyes to end the inning with runners on second and third.
Paddack (0-1) allowed three runs and three hits in six innings while striking out five and walking one. He struck out the side in the third, including Votto looking to end the inning.
“It’s an encouraging outing,” Green said. “It’s good to see him get through six innings. There’s a lot to like in him every time he takes the mound.”
Roark had a three-pitch fourth inning in which he gave up a leadoff single to Eric Hosmer before getting Machado to line into a double play and Reyes to fly out to left, with Matt Kemp making a nice diving catch.
Roark said that’s never happened to him. “When I was walking back to the dugout I realized that it was a three-pitch inning,” he said. “It was great defense overall. Kemp with the great diving play for the third out. I didn’t think Reyes was swinging first pitch but he did, so it worked out.”
Reds: RHP Anthony DeSclafani (0-1, 7.43) is scheduled to make his fourth start Friday night in the second game of the four-game series.
Padres: LHP Matt Strahm (0-2, 4.26) is scheduled to make his fourth start.