Joey Votto is hotter than a Weber grill on the Fourth of July.
And his Cincinnati Reds teammates have been hotter than a July noon in Arizona the last two days against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Votto launched a three-run home run in the first inning, leading the way to a 14-8 victory Tuesday night in Great American Ball Park.
The Reds crashed five home runs and rookie Graham Ashcraft threw nothing but zeros at the D-Backs in six scoreless innings.
When Votto homered in the first, eight of his last nine hits were for extra bases — three home runs and five doubles. And since he lapsed onto the injured list with a .122 batting average, he has lifted his average to .198.
Once more, Votto has become the epicenter of the Reds offense, the team’s personal flotation device.
At this point, it is easy to take away Arizona’s lunch money. The D-Backs were shut out two straight games — 3-0 at Pittsburgh and 7-0 Monday by the Reds and Hunter Greene.
And the D-Backs stretched their scoreless streak to 23 straight innings Tuesday before a rain delay stopped play for an hour after seven innings when the Reds led, 9-0.
When play resumed, Reds relief pitcher Jared Solomon gave up a grand slam to Gerado Perdomo, his first career homer, and a home run to Ketel Marte.
The Reds quickly reclaimed it all by scoring five in the bottom of the eighth. Then the D-Backs scored three in the ninth.
Brandon Drury homered for the second straight day against his former team, Matt Reynolds homered and after the rain delay Tommy Pham homered and Tyler Stephenson homered.
The Reds scored four in the first, three in the second and two in the third en route to a 16-hit night.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the ledger, rookie pitcher Ashcraft was as untouchable as Eliot Ness — no runs, three hits, no walks and four strikeouts in six innings.
Ashcraft is 3-0 with a 1.14 earned run average and there are rumors the big right-hander once slept in a manger.
He retired the first 10 Diamondbacks before he gave up a one-out single in the fourth to Pavin Smith, who was thrown out by left fielder Albert Almora Jr. trying to stretch it into a double. Ketel Marte followed with a double, but Ashcraft retired Christian Walker on a line drive to center.
The only other Arizona hit was a leadoff double in the sixth by Jake Hager. He made it to third on a ground ball, but Ashcraft left him perched there by striking out Daulton Varsho and Smith.
Just as it happened Monday night in the seventh inning, the rain arrived again Tuesday in the seventh, forcing the grounds crew to pull the tarp over the infield for an hour.
In addition to Votto’s two hits (homer, single), Nick Senzel had two hits and also reached base on catcher’s interference, the 11th time this season that has happened to Senzel, and a hit by pitch.
Farmer also had two hits, while Votto drove in three runs and, Drury drove in two. Stephenson had two hits and drove in three. Pham had two hits and scored three runs. Almora and Reynolds each had two hits.
Ashcraft was born where the crawdads sing, Gurley, Ala., and he was the Reds sixth round draft pick in 2019 out of the University of Alabama-Birmingham.
He didn’t pitch in 2020 because the minor league season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
And a year ago, the 24-year-old whose fastball hits 100 miles an hour, was pitching at high-A Dayton. He was 4-1 with a 2.33 earned run average and was promoted to Class AA Chattanooga. He began this season at Class AAA Louisville and was promoted to the Reds on May 20.
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