Latos latest to shut down slumping Cubs bats
CHICAGO – Travis Wood knew as he sat in the dugout and watched Cincinnati starting pitcher Mat Latos retire 14 of the first 15 Cubs he faced he couldn't afford any mistakes against the Reds.
Wood matched Latos pitch for pitch through the six innings, but Brandon Phillips hit an 0-2 slider into the left field bleachers for a two-run homer in the seventh to give the Reds all the runs they would need in a 2-0 win over the Cubs on Monday night.
"From pitch one (Latos) was hitting every spot and making the pitches," Wood said. "So I felt like, 'OK, you have to step it up and make sure we can't fall behind here.
"Hats off to him, he was outstanding tonight. He outpitched me."
Latos pitched eight scoreless innings, and Aroldis Chapman struck out the side in the ninth to record his 28th save in 32 tries.
Latos, who had been 3-0 with a 1.73 ERA since the All-Star break, allowed six hits and struck out nine for the Reds, who gained a half-game on idle Pittsburgh and St. Louis in the NL Central.
"That was big, Brandon's home run, because Woody was dealing on the other side, too," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "That guy has given us kind of the blues."
The Cubs have gone 32 2-3 innings without a run at Wrigley Field. They haven't scored since the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 2. The Cubs have been shut out for three consecutive home games for the first time since Aug. 20-21, 1924.
Phillips' 15th homer of the season came one batter after Wood (7-9) walked Todd Frazier to start the seventh. Wood posted his 20th quality start, lasting eight innings and four hits. He struck out four and walked only one, but the Cubs lost for the 11th time in 15 games.
Only two Cubs runners advanced into scoring position as they dropped to 18-33 against NL Central opponents.
"It was a shame somebody had to lose that game because guys are matching some pretty good hitters," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "Woody pitched one heck of a game."
The Cubs didn't get their first hit off Latos until there were two outs in the fifth when Donnie Murphy lined a sharp single to left. Darwin Barney followed with a single that moved Murphy to third. Latos ended the threat by getting Wood to fly out to left.
Wood, facing the team that traded him before the 2012 season, kept the Reds in check, too. He was helped by double plays in the second and fourth innings, and was aided in the third when David DeJesus threw out Devin Mesoraco at second as he tried to stretch a single into a double.
Chicago also made a costly mistake on the bases in the sixth. Junior Lake singled with one out, and when Anthony Rizzo followed with a hit to center, Lake was thrown out at third by center fielder Shin-Soo Choo.
Sveum was OK with Lake's aggressiveness, citing the Cubs' need to put a runner on third with less than two outs. However, after Lake was thrown out, Welington Castillo struck out to end the inning.
"Choo threw the most perfect throw you can throw," Sveum said. "You can't put a ball any better than that. If it's offline just a little left or a little right, he's safe."
Latos (12-3) gave the Reds bullpen a much needed rest after Cincinnati used six relievers for a combined six innings of work Sunday in a 3-2, 13-inning win over San Diego.
"At any given time, it doesn't matter who's in an offense," Latos said. "It could have just as easily blew up real quick. They've got young talent and a lot of guys that swing the bat. A lot of dangerous bats."
The Reds earned their 10th win in 12 games over the Cubs this season and improved to 13-1 in their last 14 games at Wrigley Field.
NOTES: The Cubs promoted Kris Bryant, the No. 2 pick in this year's draft, from short-season Boise to Class-A Advanced Daytona. First baseman Dan Vogelbach was also promoted to Daytona from Class-A Kane County. ... Cubs RHP Scott Baker threw a bullpen session and will throw one more before resuming his rehab assignment at Daytona. Baker, 31, is working back from Tommy John surgery. He has allowed 14 earned runs in 12 innings through four rehab outings at Class-A Kane County and Daytona. ... On Tuesday, the Reds' Homer Bailey (7-10, 3.73) faces the Cubs' Jeff Samardzija (6-11, 4.23).