The Cincinnati Reds ' hopes of winning the NL Central are practically gone.
Giving the ball to Mat Latos at home could at least improve their chances of hosting the wild-card game.
Latos looks to continue his impressive success at Great American Ball Park in order to keep the playoff-bound Reds alive in the division race Wednesday against the New York Mets .
Cincinnati (90-68) is headed to the postseason, but the team was eying a bigger prize that could become out of reach with one more defeat.
The Reds are third in the division race, one game back of Pittsburgh for second and three behind first-place St. Louis with four games to play.
A loss Wednesday combined with the Cardinals beating the Nationals would eliminate Cincinnati from the Central chase.
After concluding this three-game set with the Mets, the Reds close the season at home with three versus the Pirates that will at least determine home-field advantage for Tuesday's wild-card game.
The Reds' division chances took a major dent Tuesday, losing 4-2 as New York (72-85) scored all its runs in the second inning off Mike Leake .
"We'll forget about this one," manager Dusty Baker said. "Four games to go."
Baker will turn to Latos (14-6, 3.23 ERA), who is probably getting his last chance at a career high in wins.
The right-hander is 0-1 with a 5.49 ERA while allowing opponents to hit .316 over his last three starts. However, taking the mound at home could be just what he needs to reach the milestone.
Latos has the most victories of any pitcher over the last two seasons at Great American Ball Park, going 17-4 with a 3.06 ERA in 32 starts. He's 9-1 with a 2.89 ERA in 13 games there this year, winning each of his last five decisions behind a 2.55 ERA.
Latos, though, wasn't very sharp on the road Friday, giving up four runs and two homers in six innings of a 6-5, 10-inning win at Pittsburgh.
He's 2-1 with a 3.19 ERA in six starts against the Mets, going 1-1 with a 1.89 ERA in three at home.
Latos will have to contend with Daniel Murphy , who is 5 for 12 (.417) off him.
The second baseman enters this matchup hot, batting .366 with three homers, eight RBIs and nine runs over his last 10 games.
He hit a three-run homer for one of his two hits Tuesday, giving him a .383 average with 10 RBIs and 11 runs over 11 career visits to Cincinnati.
Daisuke Matsuzaka (2-3, 5.52) is expected to get the ball looking to continue his recent success in his first meeting with the Reds.
He's 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA over his last three starts, a dramatic improvement after compiling a 10.95 ERA while losing his first three with the Mets.
The right-hander was victimized by a four-run fourth inning Friday, but only two were earned as he pitched six innings in a 6-4 win at Philadelphia.
"Overall, my command was pretty good except the fourth inning," Matsuzaka said through an interpreter. "Looking back I could've pitched differently to keep those runs from scoring."
|New York Mets|
|September 19, 2013||Ruben Tejada||Day-to-Day||Broken right fibula - out for season|
|September 17, 2013||Travis d'Arnaud||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right shoulder|
|September 14, 2013||Frank Francisco||Day-to-Day||Thumb contusion|
|September 10, 2013||Justin Turner||Day-to-Day||Strained right hamstring|
|September 09, 2013||Scott Rice||60-Day DL||Sports hernia|
|September 02, 2013||Ike Davis||60-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|September 05, 2013||Brandon Phillips||Day-to-Day||Quadriceps|
|September 05, 2013||Devin Mesoraco||Day-to-Day||Hamstring|
|August 22, 2013||Jonathan Broxton||60-Day DL||Flexor mass strain, right forearm|
|August 21, 2013||Tony Cingrani||15-Day DL||Strained lower back|
|August 21, 2013||Tony Cingrani||15-Day DL||Strained lower back|
|August 21, 2013||Jonathan Broxton||Day-to-Day||Left game - elbow|
CINCINNATI (AP) -- The Cincinnati Reds probably would have liked Daisuke Matsuzaka 's first career appearance against them to come at another time - such as next season.
Matsuzaka scattered four hits in 7 2-3 innings to win his third consecutive start, outdueling Mat Latos in the New York Mets ' 1-0 victory on Wednesday that further dampened the Reds' hopes of hosting the National League wild-card game on Tuesday.
Eric Young Jr. drove in the only run for the Mets, who won two of three in the series.
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.
"We have to find a way to get that big hit," manager 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 it's not impossible no matter where you play."
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 since joining the Mets in August. Manager Terry Collins said the former Boston Red Sox ace had definitely pitched his way into the Mets plans for next season.
"We've got to bring a lot of guys in, because you never know what might happen," he said. "We're looking for veteran guys coming into camp, and you can add his name to the list for sure."
Matsuzaka will welcome any opportunity, including the Mets.
"If the Mets feel that way, it would be an honor and something I'd take very seriously," he said.
Matsuzaka, who slightly injured his back striking out in the fourth but still managed to get a hit in the seventh, 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 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.
That's his story line shutting down the running game," Collins said about Centeno. "He shut down a guy who could end up being the best base stealer of all time. That's what we ask him to do to and he made it look easy."
The scouting report on Hamilton made it easy for Centeno to be ready.
"I was excited," the catcher said. "As soon as he got on base, I got ready. I know he likes to go early."
It wasn't all Centeno, Baker pointed out.
"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.
"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: Daniel Murphy 's first inning steal of second was his 20th straight without being caught, the third-longest streak in Mets history. He had been tied with Tommie Agee (1971). Murphy is one steal shy of matching Kevin McReynolds (1988). ... 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. ... The Mets open their final series of the season at home on Thursday against Milwaukee. RHP Dillon Gee (12-10) will pitch for New York against RHP Johnny Hellweg (1-4). ... Mets manager Terry Collins said Matsuzaka will most likely start on Sunday if New York decides against using LHP Jonathon Niese .