Cincinnati Reds' Joey Votto (19) is restrained from umpire Bill Welke (52) after being thrown out of the baseball game for arguing balls and strikes during the eighth inning Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)


Cincinnati Reds' Joey Votto (19) argues with umpire Bill Welke after being thrown out of the game for arguing balls and strikes during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)


Pittsburgh Pirates' Jung Ho Kang, center right, runs to the dugout with Gregory Polanco, left, Aramis Ramirez, center left, and Andrew McCutchen, right, after hitting a grand slam off Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Keyvius Sampson during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)


Associated Press

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CINCINNATI (AP) — Reds star Joey Votto went ballistic after a called strike and got ejected, with teammates and even an umpire needing to hold him back Wednesday night in Cincinnati’s 5-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Jung Ho Kang hit Pittsburgh’s first grand slam of the season, a tiebreaking shot in the sixth inning. The Pirates hold the top spot in the NL wild-card race.

Votto was tossed by plate umpire Bill Welke while the Reds were trying to rally in the eighth. The 2010 NL MVP argued a called strike two and slammed down his batting helmet, hollering and gesturing as he went nose-to-nose with Welke.

The dispute quickly escalated and Reds teammates intervened to restrain Votto, with first base umpire Laz Diaz helping prevent the big hitter from getting back at Welke. Cincinnati manager Bryan Price also was ejected.

J.A. Happ (5-1) struck out a season-high 10. Mark Melancon pitched the ninth for his major league-leading 44th save.

Keyvius Sampson (2-4) took the loss.

Cincinnati Reds’ Joey Votto (19) is restrained from umpire Bill Welke (52) after being thrown out of the baseball game for arguing balls and strikes during the eighth inning Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2015/09/web1_105741058-b6a64c06ae2141fdb7f43b2d39b317ac.jpgCincinnati Reds’ Joey Votto (19) is restrained from umpire Bill Welke (52) after being thrown out of the baseball game for arguing balls and strikes during the eighth inning Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Cincinnati Reds’ Joey Votto (19) argues with umpire Bill Welke after being thrown out of the game for arguing balls and strikes during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2015/09/web1_105741058-5dc541c1303b4c07ad7626fa3c2f1fa1.jpgCincinnati Reds’ Joey Votto (19) argues with umpire Bill Welke after being thrown out of the game for arguing balls and strikes during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Pittsburgh Pirates’ Jung Ho Kang, center right, runs to the dugout with Gregory Polanco, left, Aramis Ramirez, center left, and Andrew McCutchen, right, after hitting a grand slam off Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Keyvius Sampson during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2015/09/web1_105741058-2157468890244769afbe2d4e878177d7.jpgPittsburgh Pirates’ Jung Ho Kang, center right, runs to the dugout with Gregory Polanco, left, Aramis Ramirez, center left, and Andrew McCutchen, right, after hitting a grand slam off Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Keyvius Sampson during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)