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I am a freelance writer. I've covered the Cincinnati Reds, Bengals and others since 1992. I have a background in sales as well. I've sold consumer electronics, advertising and consumer package goods for companies ranging from the now defunct Circuit City to Procter&Gamble. I have worked as a stats operator for Xavier University, the University of Cincinnati, the College of Mount St. Joe and Colerain High School.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Mets And Daisuke Matsuzaka End Reds' Division Championship Hopes

The Reds failed to come up with the run they needed to keep their hopes of a division championship alive. They still hope to play the wild card game at home.

Daisuke Matsuzaka scattered four hits in 7 2-3 shutout innings to win his third consecutive start, outdueling Cincinnati's Mat Latos in the New York Mets' 1-0 victory over the Reds on Wednesday.

The Reds came into the game in third place in the Central Division and second in the wild-card standings, one game behind Pittsburgh. The Pirates and Reds end the regular season with a three-game series starting Friday in Cincinnati. The Reds can only tie St. Louis but the Cardinals own the tie-breaker by winning the head-to-head series, 11-8.

Eric Young Jr. drove in the only run for the Mets, who won two of three in the series to further dampen Cincinnati's hopes of hosting the National League wild-card playoff game on Tuesday.

"We have to find a way to get that big hit," Dusty Baker said. "This team (Reds) seems to take the hard road most of the time. It is very important to have the home field advantage but its not impossible no matter where you play."

Baker is not worried about the team's "sense of urgency". In fact he believes it is an overused, meaningless term.

"No matter how urgent you feel, you can't hit the ball where you want to. If you could do that, you could feel the sense of urgency and get it done all the time. I think people use that term too much. Go into that clubhouse. You will see the guys are down but not out. It's o.k to be down. Just don't stay down. Anybody that has played sports knows that urgency does not help you. If anything it hurts you. I don't even like that term. We don't like to lose. We hate to lose."

Matsuzaka (3-3) allowed two walks and hit a batter. He struck out six and evened his record after three losses and a no-decision in his first four starts after joining the Mets in August.

He left the game with a runner on second and two outs in the eighth. Pedro Feliciano came on to walk Shin-Soo Choo before getting Joey Votto to fly out to center fielder Juan Lagares for the fourth time in four at bats.

LaTroy Hawkins pitched the ninth for his 13th save.

The shutout loss was Cincinnati's 11th of the season, after only four last season.

The Mets (73-85) earned their 10th shutout, three fewer than last season, and New York finished its road schedule with a winning record (41-40), wrapping up a 5-1 trip.

Before a crowd of 26,223, which lifted Cincinnati's season attendance to a Great American Ball Park-record 2,371,103, the Mets pushed across a run in the third.

 Latos hit Wilfredo Tovar to open the inning. Tovar went to second on Matsuzaka's sacrifice and moved to third on a passed ball before scoring on Young's single to right through a drawn-in infield.

Matsuzaka made the lead stand up with help from catcher Juan Centeno, who threw out Reds rookie base-stealing sensation Billy Hamilton, who was trying to swipe second with two outs in the fifth inning. Hamilton had been successful on his previous 13 attempts, and Centeno caught him without the assistance of a pitchout.

"The catcher put the ball right on the toe," Baker said. "Daisuke varied his delivery. He went to a slide step. It was going to happen sometimes and that's what it takes."

Latos (14-7) allowed four hits and one run with two walks and seven strikeouts in seven innings. He also hit two batters in slipping to 0-2 in four starts since his last win on Sept. 2 against St. Louis.

Latos was disappointed in the loss but pleased with his season as a whole.

"To take the positive out of today, I stayed healthy all year, made all my starts, set a career-high in innings," Latos said. "Whenever I do get the ball again, I'll be ready to go, ready to compete. I felt strong. Velocity was up. I'll take it into the next start."

NOTES: In Friday's series opener, RHP Homer Bailey (11-11), who pitched a no-hitter against the Pirates at Pittsburgh last Sept. 28, is scheduled to face RHP A.J. Burnett (9-11), who beat the Reds 4-2 last Saturday. ... Latos 210-2/3 innings pitched is a new career-high.... Billy Hamilton was caught stealing for the first time after 13 successful tries. Catcher Juan Centeno, who threw out 56 percent of runners trying to steal in the minor leagues, got Hamilton. “That’s why I was excited. As soon as he got on base, I got ready. I know he likes to go early,” Centeno said. Centeno stopped Tony Campana at 16-for-16 in minor leagues. “I got him, too.”... The Reds set a new Great American Ball Park attendance record with 2,371,103... Derrick Robinson had a pinch hit single batting for Cesar Izturis.  He is 8-for-29 as a pinch hitter... Reds' relievers have not allowed a run in the last five games, covering 18-2/3 innings...

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