The Reds try to extend their season-high winning streak to five Friday night when they play the second of four against the major league-worst Marlins at Great American Ball Park.
Since losing five straight, Cincinnati (9-7) has picked up the pace in a big way. The Reds have gone 16 for 33 (.485) with runners in scoring position and compiled a 1.25 ERA in winning their last four games by a 27-5 margin.
Cincinnati has also taken eight of nine at home, including five straight. The Reds haven't posted six consecutive victories on their own field since a seven-game run May 4-17, 2011.
After completing a three-game sweep of Philadelphia, Cincinnati cruised to an 11-1 victory in Thursday's series opener. Todd Frazier went 2 for 3 with a two-run homer and three runs scored for the Reds, who have posted back-to-back games with at least 11 runs for the first time since beating Houston 15-6 and 12-2 on May 28-29, 2010.
Tony Cingrani also came up big with five solid innings in his season debut.
"He gave us what we needed, and we gave him what he needed," manager Dusty Baker said.
The Reds now give the ball to Mat Latos (0-0, 3.26 ERA), who cruised through six innings before allowing three runs in the seventh of Sunday's 10-7 loss at Pittsburgh. The Reds had won each of his previous nine regular season outings.
"I didn't have a good feel for my slider," he told MLB's official website. "It wasn't as hard as it normally is. That's just the way things go."
Latos has been hit hard in five career outings against the Marlins, going 0-3 with a 7.50 ERA - his second-highest mark against any opponent. He'll need to be cautious with Giancarlo Stanton , who's gone 4 for 5 in their matchups.
After missing the previous six games due to a bruised left shoulder, Stanton went 1 for 3 with two strikeouts Thursday. The slugging right fielder is batting .182 with no RBIs over 10 games and has fanned 14 times in 33 at-bats.
Justin Ruggiano provided all the offense Thursday with Miami's major league-worst fourth homer. The Marlins (3-13) are also last in baseball with 33 runs scored and a .208 average.
Marlins starter Kevin Slowey (0-2, 2.04) knows all too well of the team's offensive woes. The right-hander, who was limited to eight minor league starts in 2012 due to a fractured rib cage, has received zero runs of support through his first three turns in the rotation.
Slowey allowed one run and nine hits over 5 1-3 innings but didn't factor in the decision of Sunday's 2-1 loss to Philadelphia.
"Tremendous pitching performance again by Slowey," said manager Mike Redmond , a former teammate of his in Minnesota. "This might be the best I've ever seen him pitch. He's locating his fastball. His tempo is great. He's pounding the strike zone. Man, he needs a win. We've got to get this guy a win."
Slowey, who's never faced Cincinnati, is 0-10 with a 6.47 ERA over his last 12 big league starts. His last win came in a 4-2 victory over Oakland on Sept. 18, 2010, while with the Twins.
|April 17, 2013||Adeiny Hechavarria||15-Day DL||Bruised left elbow|
|April 13, 2013||Justin Ruggiano||Day-to-Day||Groin|
|April 12, 2013||Giancarlo Stanton||Day-to-Day||Left shoulder soreness|
|April 04, 2013||Casey Kotchman||Day-to-Day||Strained left hamstring|
|April 04, 2013||Casey Kotchman||15-Day DL||Strained left hamstring|
|March 31, 2013||Alfredo Silverio||60-Day DL||Sprained right elbow|
|April 14, 2013||Johnny Cueto||15-Day DL||Strained right lat|
|April 13, 2013||Johnny Cueto||Day-to-Day||Right triceps injury|
|April 08, 2013||Sean Marshall||15-Day DL||Left shoulder tendinitis|
|April 02, 2013||Ryan Ludwick||Day-to-Day||Torn cartilage in right shoulder|
|April 02, 2013||Ryan Ludwick||60-Day DL||Torn cartilage in right shoulder|
|March 22, 2013||Nick Masset||15-Day DL||Recovery from right shoulder surgery|
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Justin Ruggiano wasn't thinking of anything dramatic. All he wanted to do was avoid looking bad against one of baseball's hardest throwers.
Ruggiano waited for a high fastball from Aroldis Chapman and got it, connecting for a solo homer in the ninth inning that sent the Miami Marlins to a 2-1 victory on Friday night and snapped the Cincinnati Reds ' winning streak at four games.
Stunning all around for the Marlins, who have the worst record in the majors at 4-13 and had managed a total of only four homers combined - also worst in the majors - when Ruggiano came to the plate in the ninth.
"The one thing I didn't want to do is get beat on a high fastball," Ruggiano said.
Cincinnati's spotless closer threw one 94 mph and Ruggiano was right on it, driving a 3-1 pitch to center field for his third homer of the season. No other Marlin has more than one.
He may have gotten a little help from the setting - Great American Ball Park is one of the most homer-friendly in the majors.
"Hitting it here, I knew it had a chance," said Ruggiano, who homered for the second straight game at Great American. "If it's a different ballpark - in our ballpark - I don't think I'd be taking a right-hand turn (after crossing home)."
Chapman (2-1) hadn't allowed a run in his eight previous appearances, giving up only three hits while fanning 13. It was only the seventh homer Chapman has allowed during his four seasons in the majors.
Ruggiano joined Albert Pujols , Luke Scott , Matt Dominguez , Jose Lopez , Asdrubal Cabrera and Josh Willingham with homers off Chapman. Five of the seven off the left-hander have come at Great American.
"You get so used to him being perfect, but that happens a couple of times a year," manager Dusty Baker said. "It doesn't happen very often. That guy took a good pitch to get it to 3-1. He hit a high fastball, trying to catch up to it."
Left-hander Mike Dunn (1-0) retired the last two batters in the eighth. Steve Cishek gave up a hit in the ninth while earning the Marlins' first save of the season.
"It all came together perfect tonight," manager Mike Redmond said.
Nick Green had three singles and scored the Marlins' first run on a raw, wet night. It was 46 degrees at the first pitch, and showers moved through during the game. Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton wore a ski mask under his cap.
Reds starter Mat Latos remained winless in four starts this season, which include two blown saves behind him. He allowed one run on six hits and struck out 10, fanning pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs with runners on second and third to end the Marlins' seventh inning and keep it tied.
Marlins starter Kevin Slowey remained winless in the majors since 2010, a streak that includes 10 losses, several injuries and very little help from his offense. The Marlins were shut out in his first two starts this season, and managed only one run in his third - after he'd left the game.
This time, the major leagues' least-productive offense got two runners thrown out at the plate and managed one run while Slowey was in the game. He left after six innings, having allowed four hits.
"This is certainly one of the best stretches I've had, feeling-wise," Slowey said. "Nothing is bothering me."
Slowey held down an offense that had scored 11 runs in each of its last two games. Shin-Soo Choo opened the Reds' first with a triple and scored on Joey Votto 's sacrifice fly. That was it for Cincinnati.
By contrast, the Marlins got chances against Latos and wasted them.
Miami got him a run in the third, but could have had more. Nick Green and Donovan Solano singled, and Slowey advanced them with a sacrifice bunt. Placido Polanco singled to right for one run, but Solano was thrown out at home by Jay Bruce .
"We haven't scored a ton of runs," Redmond said. "We're trying to be aggressive in situations when we can be aggressive."
Juan Pierre opened the sixth with a double and advanced on a fly out. He was out at the plate when he tried to score on Stanton's grounder to shortstop Zack Cozart with the infield drawn in. Pierre lowered his shoulder, but catcher Ryan Hanigan held on after making the tag.
NOTES: The Marlins designed struggling reliever John Maine for assignment and called up RH Tom Koehler from Triple-A New Orleans, where he was a starter. He'll move into Maine's role as a long reliever for now. ... University of Cincinnati football coach Tommy Tuberville threw a ceremonial pitch. ... Latos doubled with two outs in the fifth - his first hit in seven at-bats this season - but was stranded.
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