LOS ANGELES (AP) — Sparked by the young guy and the old man, the Cincinnati Reds took over sole possession of first place in the NL Central.
Elly De La Cruz, the 21-year-old sensation, and Joey Votto, who turns 40 in September, helped the Reds rout the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-0 on Sunday. They won home and road series against the NL West-leading Dodgers this season.
“It’s big-time for us,” winning pitcher Graham Ashcraft said. “It keeps us going and gives us that edge to keep fighting.”
De La Cruz hit a two-run homer and went 4 for 5 in his third game of the season with four hits. He also scored twice as the Reds rapped out 14 hits in handing the Dodgers their worst loss since a 15-0 defeat to San Francisco on June 17.
De La Cruz broke out of the struggles he’s had since the All-Star break, while Votto shook off his offensive funk with a two-run shot. Votto went 2 for 5 with three RBIs.
“He knows how to come out of those slumps. He gives us ideas and tips on how we can get out of there too,” De La Cruz said. “He helps me and if there’s something I can help him out with, I’ll tell him, too.”
Votto respects the equanimity shown by his much younger teammates.
“During the rough spells, these guys have been the exact same people every day,” he said. “It’s a very young team. The energy is consistent. That’s the really charming part about it. Every single day from spring training, the optimism has been there.”
Ashcraft (6-7) scattered five hits over six innings and struck out two.
The Dodgers hit into three double plays on Friday and three more Sunday. They managed just two hits in a 3-2 loss Saturday. They didn’t get a runner past second base over the final five innings in the finale.
Dodgers shortstop Miguel Rojas made his first career pitching appearance in the ninth. He nearly hit Votto before the designated hitter answered with an RBI double that made it 9-0. Rojas then hit Christian Encarnacion-Strand.
Dodgers starter Michael Grove (2-3) got hit hard over the first three innings. Three pitches into the game, the Reds led 1-0 on TJ Friedl’s RBI double. Friedl scored on a throwing error by center fielder James Outman, and Matt McLain hustled home on Spencer Steer’s groundout to third.
“Too many pitches to hit with guys on base. I got to shore that up,” Grove said. “My attack plan wasn’t great early and I just got put on defense to start with and had to adjust. I got punished cause I was leaving pitches over the plate.”
De La Cruz’s solo shot traveled 411 feet into the right-field pavilion with two outs in the second. It was De La Cruz’s seventh homer.
McLain hit his 11th homer into the Dodgers bullpen in left leading off the third. Votto’s 418-foot shot into the Reds bullpen in right field scored Jake Fraley, who singled, and extended the lead to 7-0.
Votto was robbed of a potential second homer on Outman’s leaping catch at the top of the wall in right-center in the fifth.
The Reds led 8-0 on Friedl’s RBI double with two outs in the sixth.
Grove gave up eight runs and 10 hits in six innings. The rookie right-hander struck out a career-best 10 and walked one on a career-high 96 pitches.
Reds: INF Jonathan India went on the IL with left heel pain.
Dodgers: DH J.D. Martinez left after the first inning with left hamstring tightness. … C Will Smith left the game in the top of the fourth with a left elbow contusion after getting hit by a pitch. X-rays were negative. … OF Mookie Betts (right ankle soreness) was out of the lineup for the second straight day. He got hurt in the batter’s box trying to avoid a pitch on Friday, but is expected back Tuesday. … LHP Julio Urías is having his next start pushed back a couple days while he deals with a nail issue. … LHP Clayton Kershaw (shoulder) played catch.
Reds: LHP Andrew Abbott (6-2, 1.90 ERA) starts Monday night in the opener of a four-game series at the Chicago Cubs.
Dodgers: RHP Lance Lynn (6-9, 6.47 ERA) makes his Dodgers debut Tuesday in an interleague series opener against Oakland.