The Cincinnati Reds are off to their best home start in 19 years.
Giving the ball to Mat Latos is likely to keep it that way.
Latos looks to become the first Reds pitcher in nine years to win eight straight decisions Saturday in a matchup with the struggling Milwaukee Brewers .
Cincinnati (20-16) is proving to be much better at home than on the road, winning a major league-best 14 times on its own field against six losses. It's the Reds' best start to their home schedule since going 15-5 at Riverfront Stadium in 1994.
They won again at home Friday, opening this series with a 4-3 win over Milwaukee (15-18), beating the NL Central rival for the eighth time in 10 home meetings.
Latos (3-0, 2.23 ERA) is looking to make it nine in 11, as he goes for a career-high eighth consecutive winning decision, which would be Cincinnati's longest winning streak since Paul Wilson won nine in a row Aug. 17, 2003-May 25, 2004.
Latos is 7-0 with a 2.25 ERA while holding opponents to a .225 average over his last 14 starts - 12 ending in Reds wins. The right-hander's streak includes a 1.50 ERA while winning each of his last three trips to the mound, and he went 1-0 with a 1.17 ERA in three starts versus the Brewers last year.
"If he has the kind of finish he had, who knows what he can do? Especially a young person that has the experience he's had and the time already, the next best thing is to try and keep him healthy," manager Dusty Baker told the team's official website. "He'll get better and better and better.
"We'd like to take him deeper in the games. That's the next step for him."
Latos didn't do that Monday, when he battled an illness as well as the Chicago Cubs to earn a 7-4 win in his shortest outing of the season. He tossed four scoreless innings before giving up three runs and leaving after the fifth.
While Latos is coming through on the mound, Brandon Phillips is on a tear at the plate. The second baseman is batting .357 with 10 RBIs in 11 games. He had an RBI single and a solo homer Friday, also turning a spectacular bare-handed double play to end the seventh.
The Brewers have lost seven of eight games this month thanks in large part to a 7.07 ERA from the rotation.
Now, they're scheduled to turn to Hiram Burgos (1-0, 3.00) for the first time since a 6-4 loss to Pittsburgh on May 1. The rookie right-hander didn't get a decision after giving up a pair of solo homers in seven innings.
A coupe of days off earlier this week caused Burgos to wait longer than usual for his fourth start, but he isn't concerned with the long layoff.
"I had to do it because the team needed it, and I was fine with that," Burgos told the team's official website. "I was still on the mound. I did my workouts. My arm feels good.
"(It's) more mental. I'm ready to pitch. Like I always say, I want the ball."
Brewers slugger Ryan Braun is hitting .419 over his last 11 games, but he has just four RBIs in that span with one coming on his eighth homer Friday. His 14 homers at Great American Ball Park are his highest total for any road venue.
Braun, though, is 1 for 14 with five strikeouts versus Latos.
|April 28, 2013||Jean Segura||Day-to-Day||Right index finger|
|April 12, 2013||Alex Gonzalez||Day-to-Day||Left hand contusion|
|April 07, 2013||Jean Segura||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised left quad|
|April 07, 2013||Chris Narveson||15-Day DL||Sprained middle finger|
|April 06, 2013||Aramis Ramirez||15-Day DL||Left knee sprain|
|April 06, 2013||Aramis Ramirez||15-Day DL||Left knee sprain|
|April 27, 2013||Chris Heisey||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|April 27, 2013||Chris Heisey||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained hamstring|
|April 24, 2013||Manny Parra||15-Day DL||Strained left pectoral muscle|
|April 22, 2013||Jonathan Broxton||Day-to-Day||Bruised right hand|
|April 20, 2013||Zack Cozart||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised right hand|
|April 20, 2013||Ryan Hanigan||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Jay Bruce has been getting pitches to hit all season. Lately, he's doing something with them.
Bruce homered his first time up, then doubled twice during a seven-run burst as the Cincinnati Reds delighted a sellout crowd, battering the Milwaukee Brewers 13-7 on Saturday.
"It's a long season," said Bruce, who's hit just three homers after leading the Reds with 34 last season. "I'm trying to get pitches to hit. Lately, I've been missing them less."
Manager Dusty Baker has seen his two-time All-Star starting to put it together.
"I told Jay he's on his way," Baker said. "You could tell the way he's been swinging the bat the last couple of days."
Six different Reds players drove in two runs each, including starting pitcher Mat Latos (4-0).
Baker never is comfortable against the hard-hitting Brewers.
"You've got to get a lot of run support," said Baker, whose defending NL Central champions moved five games over .500 for the first time this season. "Those guys can hit. You've got to keep scoring and scoring and scoring."
The bottom five hitters in Cincinnati's lineup were a combined 8 for 9 in the first three innings alone, scoring 10 runs and driving in six against Hiram Burgos (1-1). The rookie allowed 12 runs on 11 hits and three walks in those three innings.
"You feel kind of bad for the kid, but you can't be called off," Baker said. "You could tell it was going to be one of those-high scoring games."
Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke felt as if he had no choice but to leave Burgos in the game.
"I don't ever want to do that to somebody again," he said. "We're hurting in the bullpen."
A promotion featuring Aroldis Chapman bobbleheads drew a crowd of 41,678. The Reds never needed their closer after romping early.
Bruce led off a five-run second that was helped by a pair of fielding mistakes by left fielder Ryan Braun . Bruce opened the seven-run third with a double and capped it with an RBI double that made it 12-4.
Bruce became the first Reds player with two hits in one inning since Drew Stubbs on April 25, 2011, at Milwaukee and the first Reds player with two doubles in one inning since Sean Casey on Aug. 7, 1998, also against Milwaukee.
Latos won his fourth straight start. He allowed a total of 14 runs in his previous seven starts, but gave up seven in this win, including solo homers by Jean Segura and Norichika Aoki .
"Give the `W' to the offense," a plainly disgusted Latos said. "They deserve it. I felt all right. I didn't allow myself to have my best stuff. I was aggravated with myself. It was a poor performance."
Latos got two hits and scored twice.
"I could't care less," he said. "I gave up seven runs. ... I couldn't care less about the hits."
Latos almost didn't last long enough to qualify for the win, Baker said.
"I was tempted (to pull Latos) in the fifth," Baker said. "I told him, `You're about to blow this victory.' We helped him."
Latos gave up a homer to Segura with one out in the first and Aramis Ramirez hit an RBI double off the wall later in the inning.
Baker believes the Brewers are even more dangerous with Segura, who's in his first full season with Milwaukee after being acquired from the Angels in the Zack Greinke deal last July.
"With Segura,you've got to score even more," Baker said. "He's a heck of a player. That was a heck of a trade."
After Bruce opened the Reds' second with a 437-foot homer for his second shot in three games, Braun allowed what looked like an easy fly ball by Xavier Paul to drop behind him for a two-base error. Braun later overthrew the cutoff man on Zack Cozart 's sacrifice fly, allowing runners to advance and setting up Joey Votto 's RBI groundout.
Milwaukee got two runs back in the third on Braun's RBI double and Ramirez's run-scoring single, but the Reds pulled away in the bottom half.
Cincinnati's spree included Latos' RBI groundball single up the middle through a drawn-in infield.
Aoki added his fourth homer of the season in the sixth.
NOTES: The win clinched the three-game series for the Reds, giving them six wins in seven home series this season. ... Reds OF Chris Heisey is scheduled to start a rehab assignment Monday at Double-A Pensacola. Heisey has been on the disabled list since April 29 with a strained right hamstring. ... For the first time in franchise history, the Reds wore red jerseys with "Los Rojos" written in script across the front. ... Aoki's strikeout leading off the game snapped at 37 his streak of consecutive plate appearances without fanning. ... RHP Bronson Arroyo (2-4) starts Sunday's series finale for the Reds against RHP Wily Peralta (3-2).