After shutting out Arizona to even their four-game set, the Reds hope Mat Latos can continue his undefeated run Wednesday night against the visiting Diamondbacks.
Johnny Cueto and four relievers held Arizona in check Tuesday while Ryan Ludwick hit a three-run homer to help NL Central-leading Cincinnati (51-39) to a 4-0 win, hours after Votto underwent surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee.
While Votto's loss - he's expected to miss three to four weeks - is a huge blow, the Reds remain confident while holding a one-game division lead over Pittsburgh."We've got the guys who can do it," outfielder Jay Bruce said. "The pressure's on, but we've got to step up."
Replacing Votto at first base, Todd Frazier struck out in each of his four at-bats Tuesday. Frazier's futility did not prove costly as Cueto overcame four walks and four hits over six innings.
The Reds, who rank among the major league leaders with a 3.31 ERA, should feel good about their chances Wednesday with Latos (7-2, 4.10 ERA) on the mound.
The right-hander is 7-0 with a 3.43 ERA in 15 starts since losing to St. Louis on April 18. He's allowed four runs and struck out 33 over 30.0 innings while going 2-0 in his last four outings. Two of those runs came Friday, when he labored through five innings and did not get a decision in a 5-3 win over St. Louis.
"I'm not really trying to make an excuse for it, but I think rust really was it. I didn't attack as much as I've been doing," Latos told the Reds' official website. "Earlier in the year, I would give up a couple runs, and it seemed like a couple runs led to more runs. (The last start) I was able to minimize the damage and keep us in the ballgame."
Familiar with Arizona from his days with NL West rival San Diego, Latos is 1-0 with a 2.22 ERA and 31 strikeouts in four starts against the Diamondbacks.
Ludwick has five hits in his last 23 at-bats, but three of them have left the park. He's 1 for 10 with six strikeouts against Arizona's Ian Kennedy (6-8, 4.55), who went 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA versus Cincinnati last year but looks to bounce back from one of his worst outings of the season Wednesday.
The right-hander gave up six runs and two homers over five innings of an 8-1 loss at Chicago on Friday. Kennedy has yielded a season-high six runs four times this season. He allowed more than five only twice while going 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA in 2011."That's not how you should pitch in order to win a game," said Kennedy, 1-3 with a 5.84 ERA in his last six starts. "It's really frustrating, that's all I can tell you. I feel good one outing, and I don't know what happens. It's two completely different people."
Upton and Bloomquist are a combined for 10 for 18 through the first two games of this series.
|June 27, 2012||Daniel Hudson||15-Day DL||Right foream tightness|
|June 25, 2012||John McDonald||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|June 17, 2012||Joe Saunders||15-Day DL||Strained left shoulder|
|June 17, 2012||Joe Saunders||15-Day DL||Strained left shoulder|
|May 23, 2012||Miguel Montero||Day-to-Day||Groin injury|
|April 19, 2012||Daniel Hudson||15-Day DL||Right shoulder impingement|
|July 16, 2012||Joey Votto||Day-to-Day||Torn meniscus, left knee - out 3-4 weeks|
|July 16, 2012||Joey Votto||15-Day DL||Torn meniscus, left knee|
|June 30, 2012||Joey Votto||Day-to-Day||Left game - left knee inflammation|
|June 28, 2012||Brandon Phillips||Day-to-Day||Head|
|June 12, 2012||Zack Cozart||Day-to-Day||Illness|
|June 06, 2012||Drew Stubbs||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
CINCINNATI (AP) -- The best way for Jason Kubel to protect that balky hamstring? Just jog around the bases.
Out of the lineup for the last four games because of a sore right hamstring, Kubel returned Wednesday night and homered in his first two at-bats, powering the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 7-1 victory that dropped the Cincinnati Reds back into a first-place tie in the NL Central.
The outfielder hurt his hamstring when he slipped on wet grass at Wrigley Field during a loss on Friday night. He felt good after a strenuous workout on Tuesday, so manager Kirk Gibson decided to put him back in the lineup for the third game of their series against the Reds.
When a thunderstorm hit shortly before the start of the game on Wednesday, Gibson asked Kubel if he felt comfortable playing on another wet field.
"I talked to him about it and he said he was fine," Gibson said.
Better than fine.
Kubel hit a two-run shot in the first inning and a solo homer in the fourth off Mat Latos (7-3), who lost for the first time since April 18. Latos forced in a run with a bases-loaded walk in his second-shortest start of the season.
"That was nice, a fun one today," Kubel said. "I knew I'd be in there today and it would feel good. There wasn't a concern about it."
The two quick homers reminded the Diamondbacks of how much Kubel means to the offense. They had scored one run or less in four of their last five games.
"You miss him when he's not in there," said Ian Kennedy (7-8). "He's one of our more consistent guys. He has good at-bats even when he doesn't get hits. After a couple of days off, he was fresh. He was hitting the ball really good tonight."
Kennedy made the early lead hold, giving up eight hits and a run in eight innings. He struck out seven and didn't walk a batter.
Kennedy used his fastball to get out of early threats, then turned to his breaking ball later in the game.
The Reds have lost two of three since learning that first baseman Joey Votto needed surgery on his left knee. He's expected to be sidelined for three to four weeks.
Votto had torn cartilage repaired on Tuesday. He was in the Reds' clubhouse on Wednesday, getting treatment and defending the decision not to have an MRI on the knee for more than two weeks.
Cincinnati's offense has struggled without him, knocking the Reds into a first-place tie with Pittsburgh. The Pirates beat Rockies 9-6 earlier Wednesday.
Their best chance was another solid start from Latos, who hadn't lost in his last 15 games. The right-hander was 7-0 with 3.43 ERA during that span, which included three blown saves behind him.
This time, Latos didn't have it.
Aaron Hill singled in the first inning, extending his hitting streak to nine games. Kubel followed with a homer to center, extending Great American Ball Park's streak to 71 consecutive games with a homer since last July 29. It's the longest such streak since Coors Field had 80 games with a homer in 2002-03.
Kubel led off the fourth with his 17th homer, his first multihomer game of the season.
Latos failed to make it through the fifth inning for only the third time this season. Hill doubled home a run in the fifth, and the Reds decided to intentionally walk Kubel with two outs to load the bases for Miguel Montero . Latos fell behind 3-0 in the count, got two foul-ball strikes, then threw one up-and-in for a walk that made it 5-1 and ended his outing.
Latos took off his red cap and fired his glove into the dugout tunnel when he left the field.
The Reds stranded runners in scoring position in each of the first four innings. Drew Stubbs singled home a run in the second, but the Reds couldn't get another clutch hit out of a lineup missing its most dependable run producer with Votto gone.
NOTES: It was Kubel's seventh career two-homer game. ... The Diamondbacks sent rookie RHP Trevor Bauer back to Triple-A a day after his worst start in the majors. The 21-year-old lasted three innings in a 4-0 loss on Tuesday night. RH reliever Jonathan Albaladejo was called up from Reno. ... The Reds optioned RHP Todd Redmond back to Triple-A Louisville and called up OF Xavier Paul to help the offense while Votto is out. Redmond was with the Reds for only one day, called up for insurance in case RHP Johnny Cueto had problems with a blister on his pitching hand Tuesday night. ... Cincinnati gave away Jay Bruce bobbleheads. He went 0 for 4.
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