The Cincinnati Reds are hoping to get a boost from Mat Latos’ season debut – as long as it doesn’t mirror his struggles against the Milwaukee Brewers from 2013.
Latos makes his long-awaited return from injury Saturday night at Milwaukee.
The Reds (32-34) haven’t had the best of luck in terms of injuries this year, with Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Devin Mesoraco all requiring disabled list stints. They received another scare when Brandon Phillips left in the eighth inning of Thursday’s 4-1 win over the Dodgers with an injury to his right index finger. However, X-rays were negative and he drove in a run in Cincinnati’s 6-5 series-opening victory Friday.
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Latos, whose 55-40 record marks the seventh-best winning percentage among active NL pitchers with at least 100 starts, should provide a lift. The right-hander was 14-7 with a 3.16 ERA in 32 starts in 2013 before undergoing elbow and knee surgeries prior to this season.
He was 2-0 with a 3.09 ERA in five minor league outings.
"He brings a lot to the table," manager Bryan Price said. "He brings a lot of wins. He has a real high winning percentage as a major league starting pitcher and a lot of wins for us in the last two years. And you know, we’re always looking for a boost."
Latos had a career 2.34 ERA against the Brewers before struggling in three matchups last year, going 1-2 with a 5.95 ERA with both losses coming at Miller Park.
Carlos Gomez, who has hit safely in 11 straight and recorded his team-leading 38th RBI Friday, is 8 for 15 against Latos with four extra-base hits. Jean Segura has gone 7 for 14 against him but is batting .139 over his last nine games.
Milwaukee (40-28) was plagued by poor defense Friday, matching a season worst with four errors, including two from starter Matt Garza. Only two of Cincinnati’s six runs were earned.
The Brewers did rally with a four-run seventh to tie the game before surrendering the go-ahead single to Billy Hamilton in the ninth.
"The guys battled back and we lost it late, but we should have never been in that spot," Garza said. "My stuff was too good tonight to do something dumb like that."
Milwaukee now turns to Yovani Gallardo (4-4, 3.71 ERA), who beat Pittsburgh on Sunday with a much-needed solid performance. He had gone 1-4 with a 6.55 ERA in his previous six games before striking out a season-high eight and allowing four hits in seven innings of a 1-0 victory. He had surrendered eight homers over his last five starts.
Gallardo’s rough stretch began with a 6-2 loss at Cincinnati on May 3 when he allowed four runs and a season-high nine hits in six innings. He’s 7-7 with a 4.44 ERA in 21 career starts against the Reds.
Phillips and Bruce each have two homers against Gallardo, with Phillips going 18 for 54 and Bruce 15 for 42.
Milwaukee’s Jonathan Lucroy is hitting .432 over his last 11 games with nine RBIs after tallying two hits Friday.