Joey Votto Rips NL All-Star Teammate Marlon Byrd, Cubs

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July 15, 2010

Cincinnati may have a nine-and-a-half game lead over the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central, but Reds first baseman Joey Votto is adding some heat to the rivalry.

Votto, who was named to the NL All-Star team thanks to the final vote, refused to congratulate Cubs outfielder Marlon Byrd after Byrd made two huge plays in Tuesday?s 3-1 National League win, ESPN.com reports.

"I don?t like the Cubs," Votto told the website. "And I?m not going to pat anybody with a Cubs uniform on the back."

Maybe Votto is still a little cranky from his initial snubbing from the NL All-Star team. Or maybe it?s because his Reds got swept in a four-game series in Philadelphia heading into the break. Either way, the first baseman?s grudge against the Cubs is probably bigger than that of any Reds fan.

"We are Cincinnati Reds," said Votto of his disdain for the Cubs. "We're taught to hate everything in the Central Division. That's just how it is."

Whether Votto likes them or not, Byrd may have helped the Reds — who hold a lead in the NL Central at the break for the first time since 1999 — gain home-field advantage in the World Series.

In the top of the seventh, Byrd walked to load the bases, setting up eventual All-Star Game MVP Brian McCann?s three-run triple.

In the bottom of the ninth, with David Ortiz on first, Byrd came charging in from right field to scoop a hit off the grass, wheel around and fire to second base, retiring the slow-footed Ortiz and preventing an American League rally.

Even Votto had to give props to his apparent bitter enemy.

"Because [Byrd] made that really cool play, it turned out to be a really cool experience," Votto said after the game. "I'm really glad we got the win [Tuesday]."

Votto?s Reds will take on Byrd?s Cubs in a three-game series at Wrigley Field starting Aug. 6.

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