Latos’ complete game keys Reds over Giants
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Mat Latos always seems to find a groove at AT&T Park, dating to his days as a Giants nemesis with the San Diego Padres the past three seasons.
He still has the touch with his new team.
Latos pitched a two-hitter to win his career-best seventh straight decision, beating San Francisco for the second time in as many outings this season to lead the Cincinnati Reds to a 2-1 victory Saturday.
“I think it has to do with me just being comfortable here,” said Latos, who lowered his ERA in San Francisco’s waterfront ballpark to 1.67. “I pitched here for three years. Just familiar with the ballpark. Who knows? I pitched a pretty good game today. I kept the ball down and got quick outs.”
Latos (7-2) struck out seven and didn’t walk a batter for the fourth time in his 115-pitch gem and second straight complete game. The hard-throwing right-hander tossed seven scoreless innings against the Giants on April 24. He threw the first back-to-back complete games for the Reds since Aaron Harang in September 2006.
Just when San Francisco’s pitching staff looked unstoppable, the Reds have thrown two dazzlers of their own. Latos followed Mike Leake’s nine-hitter Friday for the Reds’ first consecutive complete games since Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey on May 11-12, 2010, against the Pirates.
Miguel Cairo added an RBI single after replacing the injured Joey Votto as the Reds won back-to-back road games following a four-game skid away from Cincinnati.
“Pitching’s the key, and the last couple days we’ve been getting some great pitching,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “It’s especially good going against a hot club.”
San Francisco managed only Brandon Crawford’s third-inning double before pinch-hitter Brandon Belt tripled in the ninth and scored on Gregor Blanco’s grounder.
“It’s been rough the last two nights,” Blanco said.
Home run king Barry Bonds was among the sellout crowd of 42,135 a day ahead of the club’s 10-year reunion celebration for the 2002 World Series runners-up. The slugger high-fived fans as he made his exit in the top of the ninth.
Barry Zito (6-6) labored through six innings, his six walks one shy of his season high. He allowed five hits and one run and struck out three while throwing 99 pitches, 54 for strikes. He missed a chance to win consecutive starts for just the second time this year.
“We ran into another well-pitched game,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “We didn’t do too much.”
Zito was coming off seven scoreless innings in last Monday’s shutout against the Dodgers that began a franchise-best string of four in a row until Matt Cain lost 5-1 Friday night, in his first home outing since his June 13 perfect game.
Zito allowed Brandon Phillips’ one-out single in the fourth, then retired Jay Bruce on a groundout before surrendering three straight walks. Ryan Hanigan’s bases-loaded free pass brought home Phillips as the Reds took a 1-0 lead. Zito received a mound visit from pitching coach Dave Righetti, then struck out Latos.
When Zito walked leadoff man Zack Cozart — who had the first-pitch homer Friday to start the game off Cain — to begin the fifth, and a reliever began warming up for a second time. Drew Stubbs then walked and out came Righetti again.
Votto’s grounder was the second out and he injured himself running to first. After an intentional walk to Phillips loaded the bases, Bruce lined into a double play on which shortstop Crawford easily threw out Stubbs at second after he wandered way off the bag.
Cairo replaced Votto in the bottom of the fifth. The Reds said Votto was removed as a precaution as he nurses inflammation in his left knee.
Cincinnati is 7-1 in Latos’ past eight starts.
San Francisco third baseman Pablo Sandoval was slow getting up after making a diving belly flop catch on Stubbs’ seventh-inning bunt. Manager Bruce Bochy and athletic trainer Dave Groeschner came out to check on him and Sandoval stayed in the game.
Brad Penny made his season debut for the Giants in the seventh. Signed to a minor league deal May 18, he was called up Friday.
Notes: 3B Scott Rolen rested for the Reds after starting nine of the previous 11 since coming off a 34-game DL stint with a strained left shoulder. … San Francisco’s Aubrey Huff will begin a rehab assignment Wednesday for Class A San Jose and stay with the club through the All-Star break before being activated from the 15-day disabled list. Huff, who sprained his right knee jumping the dugout rail to celebrate Matt Cain’s June 13 perfect game, is eager for a fresh start after also missing time with anxiety disorder. “It’s been kind of a depressing first half for me,” Huff said. “My whole career I’ve always played two different seasons. That’s what my mindset will be.” … Ryan Vogelsong (7-3), with a 1.47 home ERA this year, pitches the series finale for San Francisco against RHP Bronson Arroyo (3-5). … Darren Baker, 13, is excited for Sunday’s 2002 Giants World Series reunion. He was a 3 1/2-year-old bat boy who ran into play before J.T. Snow scooped him up at the plate and out of harm’s way. “Nah, I can’t believe it,” Darren said of it being 10 years later. “I remember parts of it, just not the whole thing.”
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