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Joey Votto’s single in the bottom of the ninth inning drove in Shogo Akiyama with the winning run as the Cincinnati Reds beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-3 on Wednesday night.

Facing Giovanny Gallegos (1-1), Akiyama and Curt Casali walked with one out and Votto delivered a sharp line drive to right to send Akiyama sliding across the plate and extend his hitting streak to six games (9-for-20, .450) after sitting out three games.

“I wanted to be instinctive,” Votto said. “I wasn’t doing much thinking. Early in the season, I may have complicated some things. I think at times you have to let go.”

The Cardinals had loaded the bases with one out in the ninth, but Raisel Iglesias (2-2) struck out Tyler O’Neill and Lane Thomas to escape.

“I saw Tyler miss a pitch he fouled right back,” St. Louis manager Mike Shildt said. “He kind of made some tough pitches. We weren’t able to put the ball in play. You’ve got to put that ball in play.”

“Iglesias has been in that situation more than anyone,” Reds manager David Bell said. “His back was against the wall. Joey is another guy who has been in that situation more than anyone. There is no one you would want up there in that situation more than Joey.”

Akiyama finished 1-for-2 with a walk in the win.

The Reds avoided a three-game sweep to finish 3-4 on a homestand against the Cubs and Cardinals, two of the teams they’re chasing in the NL Central.

“The time is for sure running out,” Votto said. “We’re playing the teams above us. They are big games, for sure.”

One night after the Reds needed five relievers and an infielder to pitch during a 16-2 loss, an efficient Tyler Mahle turned in a season-high seven innings. Mahle yielded four hits and three runs with two walks and three strikeouts.

Yadier Molina led off the Cardinals’ two-run fifth with his second homer of the season, a liner to left that clanged off a metal banister. O’Neill doubled to deep left-center field with one out and scored on Kolten Wong’s two-out double to left-center.

St. Louis starter Johan Oviedo lasted two outs into the fifth inning, allowing three hits and three runs with one walk and five strikeouts. He hit two batters, both in the fifth.

Oviedo hit Akiyama with a pitch with one out in the fifth inning. Tucker Barnhart followed with his second homer of the season, a line drive to center field that barely cleared the glove of a leaping Lane Thomas.

Brad Miller picked up where he left off on Tuesday, clubbing a shot to center field leading off the second inning for St. Louis, his fifth homer of the season. He hit a pair of two-run homers on Tuesday.

Eugenio Suarez led off the bottom of the second with a double to left-center field, went to third on a wild pitch to Mike Moustakas and scored the game-tying run on Akiyama’s two-out single up the middle.

After Wednesday’s last out, the Reds posted on the Great American Ball Park scoreboard a tribute to the late Tom Seaver, who passed away on Monday. Seaver pitched for the Reds from 1977-82.

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