Cincinnati Reds

Votto 2-for-3 in return, but Cincy falls

CINCINNATI — Not even the return of All-Star first baseman Joey Votto was enough to help the Cincinnati Reds win a series from the Philadelphia Phillies.

Votto went 2-for-3 with a walk in his first game since July 15, but Erik Kratz hit a three-run home run, Chase Utley added a two-run shot, and Roy Halladay pitched the Phillies to a 6-2 win on Wednesday.

Votto lined the third pitch he saw in 52 days to left field for a single with two outs in the first inning. He walked in the fourth and singled to left-center in the sixth before striking out looking against left-hander Antonio Bastardo in the eighth.

"I think it went better than I expected," Votto said. "I was happy to be back in the lineup. Unfortunately, it came with a loss."

"He looked pretty good to me," Reds Manager Dusty Baker said. "He even slid. We didn't anticipate him sliding on that double-play ball, but he's a ballplayer."

Votto hurt his knee sliding into third base in San Francisco on June 29. He slid again Wednesday in the fourth inning.

"The knee held up well until Bastardo buckled it," Votto joked. "I was a little apprehensive and did some things gingerly. I have to get over that hurdle."

Halladay, 4-1 in his last six starts, is 110-0 when he is staked to a lead of at least four runs. Halladay (9-7) scattered eight hits over 71⁄3 innings, allowing one run with five strikeouts and one walk. Philadelphia won two of three in the series against the NL Central leaders and went 4-3 overall this season. The Phillies have won nine straight season series against the Reds.

Jay Bruce homered for the fourth consecutive game, but it wasn't enough to rally the Reds in the ninth inning.

For the second time in less than three weeks, Reds starter Mike Leake was roughed up by the Phillies. After giving up a career-high seven runs in 41⁄3 innings in Cincinnati's 12-5 loss at Philadelphia on Aug. 20, Leake (7-9) was touched for six more in just 21⁄3 innings on Wednesday. He gave up six hits with a walk and a strikeout.

"They have a good plan, and they make it work," Leake said of Philadelphia's hitters. "They have a bunch of veteran hitters that I haven't been able to figure out."