If the Cincinnati Reds continue to pitch well, they should have a good chance to succeed over the next few weeks even without injured star Joey Votto.
After shutting out Arizona to even their four-game set, the Reds hope Mat Latos can continue his undefeated run Wednesday night against the visiting Diamondbacks.
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Johnny Cueto and four relievers held Arizona in check Tuesday while Ryan Ludwick hit a three-run homer to help NL Central-leading Cincinnati (51-39) to a 4-0 win, hours after Votto underwent surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee.
While Votto’s loss – he’s expected to miss three to four weeks – is a huge blow, the Reds remain confident while holding a one-game division lead over Pittsburgh.
“We’ve got the guys who can do it,” outfielder Jay Bruce said. “The pressure’s on, but we’ve got to step up.”
Replacing Votto at first base, Todd Frazier struck out in each of his four at-bats Tuesday. Frazier’s futility did not prove costly as Cueto overcame four walks and four hits over six innings.
The Reds, who rank among the major league leaders with a 3.31 ERA, should feel good about their chances Wednesday with Latos (7-2, 4.10 ERA) on the mound.
The right-hander is 7-0 with a 3.43 ERA in 15 starts since losing to St. Louis on April 18. He’s allowed four runs and struck out 33 over 30.0 innings while going 2-0 in his last four outings. Two of those runs came Friday, when he labored through five innings and did not get a decision in a 5-3 win over St. Louis.
“I’m not really trying to make an excuse for it, but I think rust really was it. I didn’t attack as much as I’ve been doing,” Latos told the Reds’ official website. “Earlier in the year, I would give up a couple runs, and it seemed like a couple runs led to more runs. (The last start) I was able to minimize the damage and keep us in the ballgame.”
Familiar with Arizona from his days with NL West rival San Diego, Latos is 1-0 with a 2.22 ERA and 31 strikeouts in four starts against the Diamondbacks.
Ludwick has five hits in his last 23 at-bats, but three of them have left the park. He’s 1 for 10 with six strikeouts against Arizona’s Ian Kennedy (6-8, 4.55), who went 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA versus Cincinnati last year but looks to bounce back from one of his worst outings of the season Wednesday.
The right-hander gave up six runs and two homers over five innings of an 8-1 loss at Chicago on Friday. Kennedy has yielded a season-high six runs four times this season. He allowed more than five only twice while going 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA in 2011.
“That’s not how you should pitch in order to win a game,” said Kennedy, 1-3 with a 5.84 ERA in his last six starts. “It’s really frustrating, that’s all I can tell you. I feel good one outing, and I don’t know what happens. It’s two completely different people.”
Justin Upton and Willie Bloomquist combined for four of the eight hits Tuesday for the Diamondbacks (43-47), who have totaled three runs in their four losses over the last five games.
Upton and Bloomquist are a combined for 10 for 18 through the first two games of this series.