Reds take finale vs. D-backs behind Latos
Given early lead, starter ties career high with 13 strikeouts
PHOENIX -- Back-to-back losses already made the series vs. the D-backs a lost cause for the Reds by Sunday, but the three-city, eight-game road trip is far from that. That made leaving Phoenix with a win heading into Monday's off-day a little more paramount.
Boosted by first-inning home runs by Shin-Soo Choo and Brandon Phillips, Mat Latos tied a career high with 13 strikeouts before the Reds hung on for a 4-2 win over the D-backs.
"It was very important," Phillips said. "You never want to get swept. Just getting that win, we showed that we're still here. I felt like we should have won yesterday. All you can do is learn from your mistakes and stay hungry. I'm glad we got the job done today."
The Reds quickly put the tough walk-off loss from Saturday behind them in the top of the first inning. Against Randall Delgado, Choo hit an 0-2 pitch to right-center field for his 11th homer, and fourth leadoff homer, of the season.
Zack Cozart followed Choo with a double to left field. With one out, Phillips drove a 1-0 pitch into the left field seats for a two-run homer and 3-0 lead.
In the top of the second, Xavier Paul led off with a double to the gap in right-center field. Later, with the bases loaded and one out, Cozart hit a long sacrifice fly to the warning track in left-center field. Cincinnati's lineup was kept largely silent the rest of the afternoon.
"We scored early; we've still got to work on scoring some more, some add-on runs," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "We hit the ball and didn't have anything to show for it."
Fortunately for Baker, Latos had the D-backs missing -- a lot. He pitched 7 2/3 innings with one run, six hits and two walks allowed.
"Latos, he was dealing," Baker said.
Making his final strikeout total a little more impressive was that Latos had zero K's through two innings.
"In the first inning, it took me a little while to get into a groove," said Latos, who also struck out 13 Brewers on June 25, 2012. "The first inning didn't feel too good. I didn't feel too great with my command. I came back out in the second inning, made a little bit of an adjustment, and it worked."
In the third and fourth innings, Latos struck out all six batters.
"He was really good; he's been good his whole career," D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt said. "He went right after us; he didn't miss much. We tried to be aggressive, but he got the ball down. When he got ahead, he had great putout pitches. We just weren't able to get anything going."
No Arizona hitters reached second base against Latos until the bottom of the eighth. That's when Latos showed some fatigue as he crossed the 100-pitch mark.
"When you strike out a lot of people, you throw a lot of pitches," Latos said. "It would have been great to go all nine and not strike out 13."
After Cody Ross became strikeout victim No. 13 to begin the Arizona eighth, Gerardo Parra hit a double to center field, and Goldschmidt drew a two-out walk. Miguel Montero's RBI single broke up the shutout and brought the tying run to the plate. Latos was pulled after throwing a season-high 110 pitches. Lefty Manny Parra faced lefty hitter Jason Kubel and got a groundout.
Aroldis Chapman came on for the ninth inning, one day after not retiring any of his four batters and allowing two runs for the loss. Although he retired his first two batters Sunday, it was not smooth sailing to the conclusion.
On an 0-2 pitch, Cliff Pennington singled to center field and took second base on defensive indifference. Pinch-hitter Wil Nieves chopped an RBI single through the middle to make it a two-run game and bring the tying run to the plate.
"We had two strikes on Pennington, who is not as strong right-handed; he got a pitch up, and things got kind of hairy," Baker said.
Chapman had Gerardo Parra in a 3-2 count when he hit him in the right shoulder with a 99-mph fastball, but Chapman escaped when Willie Bloomquist flied out.
"They start thinking the same thing could happen today as yesterday," Baker said. "The fans were into it, thinking they had a chance to come back, too. He'll get it straight. He doesn't like getting hit at all."
Following a 17-game stretch without a break, the Reds have an off-day Monday before two games at Oakland and another off-day. The trip concludes at Texas.
"This was quite a stretch, big time," Baker said. "Our guys were really, really dragging two days ago. It's a little better today, being acclimated to the time change."