Canadian Joey Votto smashed a towering eighth-inning home run off the right-field foul pole to give the Cincinnati Reds a 3-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday.

With the game tied at 2-2, the 38-year-old Votto, a Toronto native, hit a one-out, 2-0 curveball down the line off Blue Jays right-handed reliever Yimi Garcia (0-3).

The blast was Votto's first of the year. The six-time all-star first baseman was activated from the COVID-19 injury list before the series opener Friday.

He finished the series 3-for-11 with a first-inning walk in the finale. Votto has made 12 career visits to Toronto and has 11 hits in 44 plate appearances, including four homers.

Toronto (22-19) aimed for its first series sweep of the season before 42,323 at Rogers Centre against the last-place Reds (12-28).

Reds closer Art Warren enjoyed a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his second save. Cincinnati reliever Alexis Diaz (2-0) picked up the win for his two innings of work.

Toronto starter Yusei Kikuchi struggled in the first. He faced eight batters and threw 37 pitches as Cincinnati grabbed a 2-0 lead.

Kikuchi walked three of the first four batters he faced to load the bases. Aristides Aquino then smacked a two-out, ground-rule double down the left-field line.

Kikuchi settled down to retire 10 in a row until Reds catcher Aramis Garcia led off the fifth with a single to left field.

The Blue Jays starter lasted 4 1/3 innings, struck out seven, walked three and allowed two hits.

Toronto pulled to within 2-1 in the second because of a leadoff double from Santiago Espinal and a run-scoring single to right field from Matt Chapman.

The Blue Jays tied the game in the third. A pitch hit George Springer on his left elbow. He moved to second on a wild pitch and took third base on Vladimir Guerrero's long fly ball to centre.

Springer scored on Bo Bichette's ground ball to Cincinnati shortstop Kyle Farmer.

Springer made a fine running catch in the right-centre gap on a shot hit by Farmer in the sixth.

Cincinnati starter Graham Ashcraft made his major-league debut, lasting 4 1/3 innings. He yielded two runs on four hits, walked two, struck out three, and delivered a wild pitch and hit Springer.

SANTIAGO'S STREAK -- Espinal's second-inning double extended his hit streak to 15 games, the longest active streak in the MLB.

In his impressive run, the Blue Jays' second baseman has gone 29 for 52 (.365).

NEXT UP -- The Blue Jays begin a two-game set in St. Louis against the Cardinals (23-18) on Monday, the first of six straight on the road. Toronto right-hander Jose Berrios (3-2) will face fellow right-hander Miles Mikolas (3-2) in the series opener. Berrios stopped a two-game personal losing streak in his last outing with a 3-0 shutout victory against the Seattle Mariners last Tuesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 22, 2022.