CINCINNATI – Lightning crackled across the sky. Rain poured while the Reds and Dodgers waited two hours to start Tuesday night's game. Alas, this wasn't the "The Natural," and Joey Votto did not hit the cover off the ball.
Votto did go 1-for-3 with a walk in his return from the disabled list, but Josh Beckett dominated the Reds and the Dodgers overpowered Mike Leake for a 6-1 victory.
Votto struck out twice and walked against Beckett. He hit a soft single to left off reliever Brian Wilson in the eighth inning. The first baseman was activated from the 15-day disabled list Tuesday after missing 23 games with a strained quadriceps in his left knee,
Beckett (4-3) was on top of his game, holding the Reds to two hits in six shutout innings in his first victory since he no-hit the Phillies on May 25.
Beckett had endured two consecutive 2-1 losses, but he had plenty of run support Tuesday. He finished with seven strikeouts and one walk and also hit a batter.
"Sitting around today was tough," the 34-year-old Beckett said of the rain delay. "I'm not 23 anymore. I was ready to go at 7:10. I spent a lot of time in the weight room trying to stay loose. I felt fine."
Leake, reached for a season-high five runs in his previous start Thursday against San Francisco, allowed five more and a season-high nine hits in 5 1-3 innings.
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Leake (3-6), who lost seven games all of last season, had seven strikeouts and one walk.
"It was a weird night," said Leake, bothered by a stiff neck in his previous three starts. "I missed some spots. I got some groundballs, but they found holes. I didn't do my job today."
Hanley Ramirez hit a two-run single and Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez, Andre Ethier and Justin Turner led the Los Angeles lineup with two hits apiece. Beckett got into the act with a single of his own for the Dodgers, who have won three straight and four of five.
"Josh's performance today is what he's been giving us all year," Ethier said. "We haven't been producing many runs for him."
The Dodgers took a 1-0 lead in the second on Gonzalez's leadoff double and Ethier's one-out double.
Beckett helped himself in a three-run fifth after Turner led off with a single. With one out, the pitcher faked a bunt and hit a chopper over charging third baseman Todd Frazier for his third hit in 23 at-bats this season.
"I saw him charging," Beckett said. "He was playing so shallow already. I took a shot."
Turner scored on Dee Gordon's double, and Ramirez drove in both runners with a single to right field.
That pretty much gave Los Angeles control. The largest deficit overcome by the Reds to win this season is two runs.
Reds manager Bryan Price was impressed with the Dodgers' approach.
"They did a nice job of putting the ball in play," Price said. "They ran some balls through the infield. They had enough team speed to get some good reads off the bat and score off that line drive to right."
Los Angeles added a run in the sixth on Matt Kemp's one-out walk and back-to-back singles by Ethier and Turner, who has four consecutive multihit games. Puig singled, stole second and scored on Gonzalez's second double in the seventh.
Ethier is hitting .467 (7 for 15) with six RBI against Leake.
The Reds avoided being shut out on Jay Bruce's leadoff double, Devin Mesoraco's infield single and Zack Cozart's one-out RBI single in the seventh.
Mesoraco snapped a career-worst 0-for-19 slump.
NOTES: Cozart stayed in the game after being hit in the batting helmet by Beckett's pitch in the fifth. ... Ethier's sixth-inning infield single originally was ruled an out, but Mattingly's challenge led to the call being overturned after a replay review. ... LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu is the Dodgers' scheduled starter Wednesday. The last time he faced the Reds, he carried a perfect game through seven innings before settling for a 4-3 win on May 26 in Los Angeles.