Latos dominates, but Reds fall on ninth-inning homer
Chapman surrenders solo shot; four-game winning streak snapped
CINCINNATI -- The Marlins' Justin Ruggiano delivered a 418-foot reminder for Reds fans who are accustomed to shutdown performances from Aroldis Chapman.
Chapman can be beaten.
It happened Friday when Ruggiano slugged the decisive home run that handed the Reds a 2-1 loss vs. the Marlins on a wet, frigid night at Great American Ball Park and snapped a four-game winning streak.
"You get so used to his being perfect," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "It's happened a couple of times last year, but not many. It's going to happen."
It was a 1-1 game when Chapman took over from setup man Jonathan Broxton for the ninth. With one out, Ruggiano hit a 3-1 high fastball to left-center field to put Miami ahead.
"That was big to send it to 3-1, that was a pretty good pitch he took," Baker said of Ruggiano. "It would have made it 2-2 and he wouldn't have been geared up so much. It was a high fastball. It's hard to catch up to. He hit a high fastball last night too off of [Tony] Cingrani. Maybe he's a high-fastball hitter."
"I just waited him out and got the pitch I was looking for. He's tough, man," Ruggiano said. "It's hard to slow him down. I kind of had a two-strike approach the whole time. I told myself, 'Don't get beat up.' The one thing I didn't want to do was get beat on a high fastball."
Entering the night, Chapman had 7 1/3 scoreless innings in his eight appearances. It was the seventh homer he has allowed in his career.
"You've got to put it behind you. That's the life of relievers -- to forget yesterday," Baker said.
During the winning streak, the Reds rotation provided stellar starting pitching. Mat Latos kept that trend alive with seven strong innings, in which he allowed six hits and a walk while striking out 10.
It was the fifth straight game where the Reds pitching staff held the opponent to two runs or fewer. The staff has walked only four while striking out 48.
"It's just frustrating because we lost," Latos said. "I did the best that I could today. It was brutal conditions. The second through fourth innings, it was just rain, cold and windy. Nobody wants to be out there in that kind of stuff. I gave the team a chance to win and it was just one of those days."
Unlike the last two nights, where Cincinnati scored 11 runs both times, support was harder to come by much of Friday. Credit Marlins starter Kevin Slowey, who held the Reds to one run and four hits over six innings. The Miami bullpen did the rest, giving up just one infield hit to Zack Cozart in the ninth against closer Steve Cishek.
Shin-Soo Choo led off the first against Slowey by hitting a drive to the wall in left-center field and hustling for a triple. Choo scored on Joey Votto's sacrifice fly to left.
Latos, who had seven strikeouts through his first four innings, was tagged for three singles in the third. After a Slowey sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third base with one out, Placido Polanco's RBI single into right field tied the game. Donovan Solano was thrown out at the plate on a throw by Jay Bruce.
In the sixth, Juan Pierre hit a leadoff double to right-center-field and was at third base with one out when Giancarlo Stanton grounded to shortstop. As Pierre broke for the plate, Cozart fired a strike home to Ryan Hanigan. He held onto the ball after Pierre barreled in for the collision.
In the seventh, Latos struck out Greg Dobbs with a 79 mph breaking pitch in the dirt that left runners stranded on second and third base. Latos threw 105 pitches (75 strikes) on the night.
Known for struggling in April, a month where he had a 5.97 ERA last season and a 2-8 record with a 5.73 ERA lifetime, what Latos has done thus far in 2013 is encouraging. But despite a 2.73 ERA and 29 strikeouts in four quality starts, Latos has four no-decisions. The Reds are 2-2 when he starts.
"That's how it goes sometimes. I'm just glad he's throwing the ball well," Baker said.