Mat Latos allowed just four hits while pitching into the eighth inning as the Reds' Jay Bruce's 23 home run led to a 3-1 win over the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday.
The Reds rebounded from an ugly three-game series against Central Division rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals. The Reds lost two of the three games over the weekend with a combined score of 28-5 in the two losses. After a day off, manager Dusty Baker was over it.
Latos prevented the A's from scoring in the first inning, in spite of a double and a walk. The Cardinals scored in the first inning of all three games this weekend.
Latos, who became the Reds' leading winner with an 11-3 record, allowed four hits and three walks in 7-1/3 innings. He escaped a second and third, one-out jam created by a two-base error by Brandon Phillips in the fifth inning. Other than that, Oakland never came close to scoring.
It wasn't easy for the big right-hander as Latos had to struggle along without his breaking pitches.
"I was scuffling," Latos said. "My curveball was around the neck and my slider was below the nose. A lot of credit has to go to (catcher Devin) Mesoraco and the defense today. In fact, all the credit. He (Mesoraco) recognized I didn't have my slider today. I didn't have any off-speed pitches today. I found it later in the game."
How did Latos escape trouble?
"I did it by making pitches," Latos said. "Mesoraco stuck with the pitch that was working, the fastball. I was able to locate that."
Bruce saved a run with a running catch of a fly ball in the gap on a ball hit by Josh Reddick to end the fourth inning. Phillips ranged far into short rightfiield to save a run in the eighth inning on Brandon Moss' bid for a hit.
Phillips singled home a run in the third, his 84th RBI of the season. The Reds added an unearned run in the fifth off a double by Shin-Soo Choo and a throwing error by pitcher Jerry Blevins on Derrick Robinson's sacrifice bunt.
Baker removed Latos after a one-out double by Jed Lowrie in the eighth. J.J. Hoover retired Yoenis Cespedes and Brandon Moss to keep the A's off the scoreboard.
Aroldis Chapman struck out Josh Donaldson and Josh Reddick to start the ninth. Pinch hitter Derek Norris hit his eighth home run with two outs, but earned his 26th save by fanning Alberto Callaspo.
Chapman was upset about the home run, according to Baker.
"I told him, hey man, you'd have been more upset if you walked him and the next guy hit a home run," Baker said. "So we won 3-1 instead of 3-0. I didn't care how it looked as long as we won."
Baker had to make some tough decisions with the way the Oakland lineup was set up. The manager has talked about getting Latos to pitch deeper in the game but his pitch count was exceptionally high in the first three innings.
"We really didn't like how they had their lineup stacked," Baker said. "We were going to give Latos one batter on base. It was real key that he got that first batter out. They had switch-hitter, right, left, right, left. They make you use your whole bullpen to get three outs or it makes you choose to let the lefthander face Cespedes or let him face Donaldson (a right-handed batter). Or you have to let a right-hander face Moss (a left-handed batter). All of these things enter into the equation. We pushed Mat as far as we could. It is some decision we have to make the way they have the lineup stacked and I only have one left-hander. Now if I have two left-handers it is a lot different. So I have to save the left-hander for the most opportune time. Then also they have a guy sitting over there that is deadly on lefties (Nate Frieman). He is deadly on lefty and they have Norris (who hit the home run off Chapman) to hit for (Stephen) Vogt. They can double-switch with the catchers. This is a typical American League lineup. There is a lot of things that go into it besides the pitch count. You (the pitcher) has to be honest (about how he feels). Especially him (Latos) because we are trying to get him to that point. I was a little scared early because he had 40-something pitches in the first two innings. He had 60 in three innings. That first inning was 26 pitches. You're sitting there counting because everybody has their limit. You have an idea about what his limit is but it changes day-to-day depending on how he's throwing."
|Professionally edited by ML Schirmer|
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