The Cincinnati Reds' hopes of winning the NL Central are practically gone.
Giving the ball to Mat Latos at home could at least improve their chances of hosting the wild-card game.
Latos looks to continue his impressive success at Great American Ball Park in order to keep the playoff-bound Reds alive in the division race Wednesday against the New York Mets.
Cincinnati (90-68) is headed to the postseason, but the team was eying a bigger prize that could become out of reach with one more defeat.
The Reds are third in the division race, one game back of Pittsburgh for second and three behind first-place St. Louis with four games to play.
A loss Wednesday combined with the Cardinals beating the Nationals would eliminate Cincinnati from the Central chase.
After concluding this three-game set with the Mets, the Reds close the season at home with three versus the Pirates that will at least determine home-field advantage for Tuesday's wild-card game.
The Reds' division chances took a major dent Tuesday, losing 4-2 as New York (72-85) scored all its runs in the second inning off Mike Leake.
"We'll forget about this one," manager Dusty Baker said. "Four games to go."
Baker will turn to Latos (14-6, 3.23 ERA), who is probably getting his last chance at a career high in wins.
The right-hander is 0-1 with a 5.49 ERA while allowing opponents to hit .316 over his last three starts. However, taking the mound at home could be just what he needs to reach the milestone.
Latos has the most victories of any pitcher over the last two seasons at Great American Ball Park, going 17-4 with a 3.06 ERA in 32 starts. He's 9-1 with a 2.89 ERA in 13 games there this year, winning each of his last five decisions behind a 2.55 ERA.
Latos, though, wasn't very sharp on the road Friday, giving up four runs and two homers in six innings of a 6-5, 10-inning win at Pittsburgh.
He's 2-1 with a 3.19 ERA in six starts against the Mets, going 1-1 with a 1.89 ERA in three at home.
Latos will have to contend with Daniel Murphy, who is 5 for 12 (.417) off him.
The second baseman enters this matchup hot, batting .366 with three homers, eight RBIs and nine runs over his last 10 games.
He hit a three-run homer for one of his two hits Tuesday, giving him a .383 average with 10 RBIs and 11 runs over 11 career visits to Cincinnati.
Daisuke Matsuzaka (2-3, 5.52) is expected to get the ball looking to continue his recent success in his first meeting with the Reds.
He's 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA over his last three starts, a dramatic improvement after compiling a 10.95 ERA while losing his first three with the Mets.
The right-hander was victimized by a four-run fourth inning Friday, but only two were earned as he pitched six innings in a 6-4 win at Philadelphia.
"Overall, my command was pretty good except the fourth inning," Matsuzaka said through an interpreter. "Looking back I could've pitched differently to keep those runs from scoring."
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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