Created on Friday, 26 July 2013 Written by JOE RESNICK,Associated Press
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Mat Latos was able to get deep into the game because of his pitch count. He threw only 74 through the first six, so he had plenty left to get through a seventh-inning jam and came within one out of getting through the eighth.
Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Mat Latos throws to the plate during the first inning of the Reds' baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Thursday, July 25, 2013, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Latos ended up with 106 pitches in a 5-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday night, ending the NL West leaders' six-game winning streak. Jay Bruce and Xavier Paul provided the power with home runs against Zack Greinke.
"Latos was really dealing tonight," manager Dusty Baker said. "He was throwing downhill. His fastball looked like it was going to go low, and then it stayed up in the zone. He also had a really good breaking ball. That's a heck of a team over there, and he almost got out of the eighth without anything."
Latos (10-3) allowed two runs — one earned — and eight hits with four strikeouts en route to his first victory at Dodger Stadium, after going 0-5 with a 3.95 ERA in his five previous starts at Chavez Ravine.
Latos is 24-7 in 54 starts since Cincinnati acquired him from San Diego in December 2011. The last time he faced the Dodgers back on Sept. 22 at Cincinnati, he pitched eight innings in a 6-0 victory that clinched the Reds' second NL Central title in a three-year span.
Aroldis Chapman got three outs for his 24th save in 27 chances.
Coming off a 6-0 trip that extended their road winning streak to 10 games — the longest by the franchise since 1955 — the Dodgers lost for only the sixth time in their last 29 games overall. Their division lead over Arizona shrunk to a half-game with the Diamondbacks' 3-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs.
"We're in a good spot, but we have to keep going," catcher A.J. Ellis said. "We've worked hard to get to this point, and we don't want to let it go to waste. We've got some good teams behind us that are going to be tough down the stretch, so we've got to stay humble and understand that this is part of the grind."
Yasiel Puig, who has been playing like anything but a rookie since the Dodgers promoted him from Triple-A on June 3, single-handedly manufactured their unearned run in the fourth after leading off with a single and making his customary exaggerated turn at first.
Center fielder Shin-Soo Choo tried to get cute and made an ill-advised throw past first baseman Joey Votto — hoping to surprise Puig — and the ball hopped into the stands. Puig was awarded two bases and scored on the first of Adrian Gonzalez's two RBI groundouts. The error was Choo's third of the season.
"That wasn't a bad play," Baker said. "I mean, if that throw is on the money, he has him. But it just looked bad because it had a tail on it and it was cutting away, and it skipped by Joey. Those things don't happen unless a guy is hustling, and there aren't many guys that hustle like that on a sure single. So you've got to give Puig credit for that.
"I remember when I first came into the league, Hank Aaron told me not to mess around — especially when Pete Rose or Roberto Clemente hits the ball because they would put pressure on you to throw the ball," Baker added. "And the only way to do that is to run. So I've got to give it to him. Most guys don't run like that, and most guys can't. The ones that can don't usually hustle like that. But this guy comes to play."
Choo made another egregious mistake on the base paths during the Reds' eighth. Votto lined a hit-and-run single to center field, but Choo got fooled on a perfect decoy by shortstop Hanley Ramirez at second base — so good that Choo started back to first and was tagged out on the relay from Andre Ethier to Ramirez.
"That's an old schoolyard play that works like once a year somewhere, and it worked for them tonight," Baker said. "He didn't pick up the third base coach. You've got to use your ears as well as your eyes, and you've got to take a peek. Sometimes in your quest to get to second base, you don't take a peek."
Puig, who went 53 at-bats without an extra-base hit before his double and home run in the Dodgers' 8-3 win against the Blue Jays on Wednesday, had a pair of singles and raised his average to .378.
"He's got long arms and a big bat," Latos said. "Both singles he had off me I jammed him, but he's big and strong. He put one into the shallow part of the outfield, then I beat him on a slider and he was able to keep the barrel out and reach over and hook it."
Greinke (8-3) gave up four runs and six hits over seven innings in his second attempt at his 100th major league victory. The loss was the right-hander's first in his last six decisions overall, and first in seven career starts against the Reds (4-1).
A couple of former Dodgers drove in Cincinnati's first two runs. Paul, the second batter Greinke faced, drove a 2-0 pitch into the right-field pavilion in his 700th career plate appearance. Cesar Izturis added an RBI single in the second inning.
"Obviously, Zack's a very good pitcher and he's got a lot of weapons, so you've got to make sure you get something you can handle and take advantage of mistakes," Bruce said.
Bruce was 2 for 21 lifetime against Greinke before driving a 2-2 pitch to left-center for his 21st homer. It came after Greinke turned Votto's comebacker into a 1-6-3 double play and then hit Brandon Phillips on the leg with an 0-2 delivery.
Choo drove in Cincinnati's final run with a ninth-inning single against Carlos Marmol in the right-hander's first home appearance with the Dodgers.
NOTES: Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully, the only member of the Dodgers' family who gets more standing ovations than Puig, received another one from the sellout crowd on his bobblehead night after a video montage was played on both main scoreboards midway through the fifth inning. Scully is in his 64th season with the club. ... Injured Cincinnati RHP Jonathan Broxton, who spent his first seven big league seasons with the Dodgers and had a career-high 36 saves for them in 2009, is scheduled to face hitters during batting practice on Saturday. He hasn't pitched for the Reds since June 13 because of an elbow strain. ... Latos has allowed only two home runs against the Dodgers in 72 career innings spanning 10 starts. Both of them were by James Loney. ... Three of Greinke's four strikeouts came against Latos.