Cincinnati Reds infielder Elly De La Cruz (44) crushed a solo homer to right in the second inning during a 9-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday, July 30. 2023 (Courtesy Photo)

Rookie phenom infielder Elly De La Cruz crushed a solo homer to right in the second inning, Matt McLain led off the third with a homer to left, and Joey Votto hit a two-run homer to right as the Cincinnati Reds routed the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-0 on Sunday afternoon at Dodgers stadium.

The Reds (58-49) took 2-of-3 games over Los Angeles, winning the home and road series against the NL West-leading Dodgers (59-45). Cincinnati also took over sole possession of first place in the NL Central with the win.

“It’s big-time for us,” said winning pitcher Graham Ashcraft. “It keeps us going and gives us that edge to keep fighting.”

Ashcraft (6-7) allowed only five hits over six innings and struck out two batters during the shutout.

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Dodgers rookie right-handed pitcher Michael Grove (2-3) gave up eight runs and 10 hits in six innings, but tallied a career-best 10 strikeouts on a career-high 96 pitches.

“Trying to take the good with the bad every time… Just gotta get back to the drawing board on it,” Grove said.

TJ Friedl got things started for the Reds with an RBI double in the first, bringing De La Cruz home after his single. Friedl then scored on a throwing error and McLain came home on a Spencer Steer groundout that gave Cincinnati a 3-0 lead.

De La Cruz’s seventh homer of the year gave Cincinnati a 4-0 advantage in the second inning and a pair of homers by McLain and Votto extended the Reds lead to 7-0 in the third.

“Too many pitches to hit with guys on base. I got to shore that up,” Grove said. “My attack plan wasn’t great early and I just got put on defense to start with and had to adjust. I got punished cause I was leaving pitches over the plate.”

Friedl added an RBI single to center in the sixth and Votto doubled to left for his third RBI of the game in the ninth to help the Reds capture a 9-0 win.

“There’s a lot of things going on, and players nowadays are more in tune with that than they’ve ever been,” Roberts said. “But the bottom line is we need to win, and the best players are going to play, so performance is paramount.”

Mookie Betts missed his second straight game for the Dodgers because of a sore right ankle and J.D. Martinez was pulled from the lineup due to left hamstring tightness.

The Dodgers now host the Oakland Athletics (30-77) for a three-game series beginning on Tuesday.

Newly acquired veteran right-hand pitcher Lance Lynn, who came from the Chicago White Sox is expected to make his Dodgers debut.