After losing Jay Bruce to injury earlier this month, the Cincinnati Reds will have to go on without Joey Votto, too.
Fortunately for them, Devin Mesoraco returned at just the right time.
Mesoraco looks to build on an impressive first game back as the visiting Reds take on the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday night.
Cincinnati (19-21) is still deciding what to do with Votto after an MRI revealed no structural damage in his sore left knee. The All-Star first baseman, mired in a 4-for-22 slump, didn't make the trip to Philadelphia and could hit the disabled list if things don't improve.
"He wanted to be out there to help his teammates, to help this club and give us a chance to win ballgames. It just got to the point where it was obvious that it was affecting his ability to play at the level we know Joey plays at with regularity," manager Bryan Price told the team's official website.
"We'll collect as an organization after the game (Friday) and try to define the best course of either rehab or the best decision for Joey and the club."
The Reds (19-21) are looking to make it two in a row after winning 3-0 in Friday's series opener. Mesoraco, who came off the DL earlier in the day, provided all the offense with a three-run homer in the first inning.
"I was supposed to leave (from Norfolk, where he played three games for Triple-A Louisville) early this morning and didn't leave until about 3," said Mesoraco, batting .460 with four homers and 16 RBIs in 14 games this season. "I was starting to panic. I didn't feel that good. My legs were tired. Things cleared up after the first swing."
The Reds now turn to Homer Bailey (3-2, 4.72 ERA), who is 2-0 with a 2.95 ERA in three starts this month after posting a 6.15 ERA in April.
"All the pieces we were missing early are finally starting to come together," he told MLB's official website.
Bailey yielded one run and four hits over 7 1-3 innings to beat Colorado 4-1 on Sunday. The right-hander, who began his delivery with his hands over his head, struck out six and walked two while throwing a season-high 112 pitches.
"I needed something to get my timing back," he said. "I had nowhere else to go but better. The next step was to start throwing left-handed."
Bailey threw 15 scoreless innings in two starts against the Phillies last year, but he's still seeking his first win in the series. Bailey has gone 0-3 with a 3.61 ERA while receiving a combined 12 runs of support in eight career meetings with Philadelphia.
Losers of four straight and eight of 10, the Phillies (17-22) will try to get on track behind Cole Hamels (0-2, 5.32). The left-hander, hoping to avoid going winless through his first five starts for the second consecutive season, was in line for a victory Sunday. However, the bullpen surrendered three runs in the ninth inning of a 5-4, 11-inning road loss to the New York Mets.
Hamels struck out 10 over seven innings of one-run ball while throwing a career-high 133 pitches, the most by anyone this season.
"If you're physically able to do so, I don't see why not," he said of his pitch count. "I'm here to pitch."
While things haven't gone Hamels' way of late, facing the Reds could help him get on track. The three-time All-Star has gone 7-0 against Cincinnati while compiling a 1.70 ERA, his lowest mark against any team. Philadelphia has won each of his 10 starts in the series.
Brandon Phillips is 4 for 28 with eight strikeouts in their matchups.