After losing for just the second time in nine games, the Cincinnati Reds are looking for Mat Latos to continue his recent positive performances against the Chicago Cubs.
Latos is also hoping that another strong start versus Chicago will help him earn his first win of the season in Wednesday's series finale.
Cody Ransom's stellar debut for Chicago (6-13) and Darwin Barney's solo homer in the 10th inning helped spoil Cincinnati's attempt at a fourth consecutive win Tuesday. Before Carlos Marmol recorded the Cubs' sixth blown save of the season, Ransom hit a solo shot of his own and made a couple of steady plays in the field in a 4-2 victory.
That snapped a four-game skid and a seven-game road losing streak.
"Our team needed that win," Barney said.
The Reds (12-9) will try to bounce back with help from Latos (0-0, 2.73 ERA), who is 2-1 with a 1.95 ERA in his last four matchups against Chicago.
The right-hander had his best performance of the season Friday, allowing one run over seven innings to Miami and striking out 10 in a 2-1 defeat.
"It's just frustrating that we got a loss," Latos said. "I did the best I could. ... I gave us a chance to win. It's one of those things."
Latos has traditionally labored in April, going 2-8 with a 4.92 ERA in 17 career starts. That's more than a run-and-a-half worse than his career 3.38 ERA.
Cincinnati's relievers have cost him chances to win two games this month and he was charged with three unearned runs in another start.
"I'm just glad he's throwing the ball well," manager Dusty Baker told the team's official website.
Latos will pitch opposite Jeff Samardzija, who has dropped three straight since winning on opening day. The right-hander gave up four runs in the first inning of Friday's 5-4 loss in Milwaukee before settling down to allow one over his final six frames.
"You have to get him early," the Brewers' Ryan Braun said of Samardzija. "You saw it tonight - once he settles in, he's as tough as anybody in baseball."
Samardzija (1-3, 3.38) has experienced different results in his two starts against Cincinnati, both at Great American Ball Park. He gave up four runs on three homers over five innings in a 5-3 loss Aug. 18 after yielding one run and three hits over 7 2-3 in a 3-1 victory May 2.
Chris Heisey, who hit a solo homer in Tuesday's loss, is 3 for 7 against Samardzija while Joey Votto, who had a tying single in the ninth, is 1 for 11 with three strikeouts.
David DeJesus is 3 for 4 with a double against Latos while Barney is 0 for 7 with four strikeouts.
The Cubs are trying to win back-to-back games for the first time since Sept. 12-14 and earn consecutive victories over the Reds for the first time since Sept. 7-12, 2011. Cincinnati has won 16 of 21 matchups.
The Associated Press News Service
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