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CIN@LAD: Votto's RBI single gives the Reds the lead

LOS ANGELES -- For so many years, Chavez Ravine was more like a black hole for the Reds. The past two seasons, however, they've managed to change their L.A. story.

With Johnny Cueto pitching like this and Joey Votto ever the clutch hitter, how could they not? Both carried the water in big ways for a 3-2 Reds win over the Dodgers on Tuesday.

Cueto delivered another superlative game with one unearned run over seven innings. And Votto, who didn't look good striking out twice vs. Dodgers lefty starter Clayton Kershaw earlier, snapped a 1-1 tie in the eighth with an RBI single off of lefty reliever Scott Elbert.

That gave the Reds the first two games of the series in Los Angeles, where they went 0-12 from 2006-09. They've now taken four of their last five games at Dodger Stadium. More important, the Reds have a 4-2 record with one game remaining on the current West Coast road trip. This from a club that owns a 26-43 record in the West over the past six seasons.

"It's very tough to do that on the West Coast," Votto said. "To be able to split a series in San Francisco and then come here and win the first two and be able to say going home that we have a winning West Coast trip is a big deal."

Cueto gave up one unearned run in the first inning and five hits overall with one walk and five strikeouts. In the bottom of the first with runners on first and second for Cueto, Brandon Phillips' throw to first base to complete Andre Ethier's would-be double play was short and wide of first base for an error that allowed Dee Gordon to score.

Matt Kemp followed with a 5-4-3 double play that ended the first. Cueto allowed four more hits the rest of the night -- one a bunt single and another was a blooper.

"Every pitch was working good today," Cueto said. "At the beginning of the game, I didn't have the feeling of the baseball. When I got in trouble, I got off the mound, took a deep breath and concentrated. I kept the ball down."

Cueto has yet to allow more than three runs in any of his eight starts this season and lowered his ERA to 1.68.

"He's a guy where we have to scratch some runs out," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "He threw the ball well, kept his pitch count down, kept him in the game and they were able to crack through."

Kershaw kept the Reds hitless for the first three innings, but the score was tied in the fourth. With two outs and runners on first and second, Scott Rolen ripped an RBI double to left field that scored Drew Stubbs. Jay Bruce was thrown out trying to score on a perfect relay throw to the plate.

In the sixth, Cueto made a throwing error on a tough bunt single by Gordon, who went to second base on the play and later stole third with two outs. But Cueto escaped the jam by striking out Ethier and pumped his fist as he left the mound.

"I have a lot of respect for Ethier," Cueto said. "In that situation with a runner on third and a good hitter like him, this is baseball and I wasn't trying to show up anybody."

Needing to break the 1-1 tie, Reds manager Dusty Baker had to lift Cueto for pinch-hitter Miguel Cairo even though he had 103 pitches and the ability to go longer.

"When he left the game, he was throwing better than at any other time. But we had to get those runs," Baker said.

Cueto could have been headed for his fifth winless start in six games, but Cairo came through with soft-lined single into right field and went to second base on a Stubbs sacrifice. Phillips lined a single into left field, but it wasn't deep enough, and Stubbs was held at third base. Elbert was summoned to face the left-handed-hitting Votto, who was 0-for-2 with two strikeouts in previous encounters.

On a 1-0 pitch, Votto sharply lined the RBI single to left-center field for the go-ahead run.

"He's known for clutch," Baker said. "You don't get to be the MVP not clutching up. A good hitter that doesn't look well the first couple of at-bats, it makes him concentrate and want it even more. That was a big at-bat he had."

After Logan Ondrusek's scoreless eighth in relief, Stubbs capped a three-hit night with a rolling two-out RBI single into right field that scored pinch-runner Mike Leake with a big insurance run. It proved extra important when closer Francisco Cordero gave up a one-out walk to Kemp before James Loney drove him in from second base with an RBI single. Cordero got a strikeout and popout to record save No. 14, and No. 304 for his career to move into a tie for 19th all time with Jeff Montgomery.

Because the Cardinals and Brewers, tied for first place, both lost Tuesday, the Reds are now 2 1/2 games back in the National League Central race.

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