Thursday, June 26, 2014
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Latos helps Reds top Cubs

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[June 26, 2014]  CHICAGO -- With the wind blowing off Lake Michigan, the temperature kept dropping inside Wrigley Field on Wednesday night and it felt more like April instead of June.

That was fitting as far as Mat Latos is concerned, because the right-hander still is in the April of his season.

Latos tossed seven strong innings in just his third start of the season, Jay Bruce went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and an RBI and the Cincinnati Reds stayed hot with a 4-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

Despite topping out at 92 mph (he has reached 97 in the past), Latos (1-0) allowed just one run on five hits in seven innings. He struck out five and didn't walk a batter in lowering his ERA to 2.89.

"Midseason form, I'm a ways off from that," he said. "I'm healthy. That's the main thing. I know what I need to do. My stuff's good enough, when it's on, I can help the ballclub out."

Latos began the season on the disabled list following offseason elbow and knee surgeries.

"I wanted to be 100 percent," he said of his return. "I didn't want to be (in) midseason form because it's not gonna happen. Yes, it is midseason, but midseason form, hopefully that comes around toward September in August when I can really pick it up."
 


The Reds, though, are rounding into midseason form. They took the rubber game of the three-game series and won for the fourth time in five games.

Cincinnati has had better offensive nights during the streak, but broke the game open with a three-run sixth inning.

"The part of it that's more important than anything is that we're consistently starting to see some production offensively where in the days where we're not scoring six or seven runs, we're finding a way to push across that extra run to keep creating that distance and not have to play as many of these one-run squeakers that we're playing those first two months of the season," manager Bryan Price said.

Shortstop Starlin Castro went 2-for-4 and drove in the only Chicago run.

Cubs right-hander Edwin Jackson (5-8) surrendered four runs in 5 1/3 innings.

"It's a tough lineup," Jackson said. "They're going to make you work.

"I thought, for the most part, I was able to contain them until the sixth inning. They kind of busted it open a little bit."

The Reds quickly grabbed a 1-0 in the top of the first inning. Third baseman Todd Frazier singled with one out, advanced to second when first baseman Joey Votto walked and then scored one out later on a double by Bruce.

Any hopes for a big inning, though, were dashed when Votto was thrown out at the plate on Bruce's hit. Right fielder Nate Schierholtz tracked down the ball and fed second baseman Darwin Barney, who fired a strike to catcher John Baker to nail Votto.

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Schierholtz had a hand in preserving a run in the first and then scored the tying run in the bottom of the fourth. He led off with a double, advanced to third on a ground out by first baseman Anthony Rizzo and walked home when Castro singled up the middle against a drawn-in infield.

The Reds broke through for three runs in the sixth. Frazier led off with a walk and scored on a double by Votto. Catcher Devin Mesoraco then singled to put runners at the corners. Bruce followed with a double off the glove of third baseman Luis Valbuena to score Votto and make it 3-1.

Jackson exited after striking out left fielder Chris Heisey for the first out. Cincinnati took a 4-1 lead when second baseman Skip Schumaker (2-for-3) laid down a perfect squeeze bunt against left-hander James Russell to plate Mesoraco.

Mesoraco finished 1-for-4, and his string of hitting home runs in five consecutive games ended.

Latos, who threw 106 pitches, was never in serious trouble and the only battle he lost was with his manager.

"I tried to go eight (innings), tried to ask him for eight and help the bullpen as much as I could, but he wouldn't give it to me," he said of Price.

"But all in all, I had really good command of the two-seamer, really god command of the cut fastball, the slider and the changeup. Really, all of them."

NOTES: Reds 2B Brandon Phillips was scratched from the lineup after batting practice. He missed his third straight game with a bone bruise on his right heel. Manager Bryan Price was concerned about Phillips being able to play a full nine innings and possibly making the injury worse. ... The Cubs announced that RHP Dallas Beeler, 25, would be promoted from Triple-A Iowa to start the first game of Saturday's day-night doubleheader against the Washington Nationals in his major league debut. For doubleheaders, teams are allowed to bring up a 26th player without having to send someone down. Beeler is 5-3 with a 4.03 ERA in 10 starts for Iowa. ... The doubleheader is a rare scheduled twin-bill because of Chicago's gay pride parade, which will pass just a few blocks from Wrigley Field on Sunday. Normally, the Cubs are on the road when the parade is held. This year, they have a rare Sunday off.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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