Papa Latos Leads Cincinnati Reds to Victory

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With less than 10 feet to spare, Billy Hamilton reeled in the 27th out of the game to secure a 7-5 win for the Cincinnati Reds over the Chicago Cubs.

As is usually the case when the Redlegs win, Hamilton was at the forefront. Stealing his 50th base of the season in the bottom of the fourth which did not even merit a throw, Hamilton became the first member of the Reds since Deion Sanders in 1997 to reach the plateau.

For as excited as Reds fans were for Hamilton coming into this season, that level of anticipation does not come close to where Chicago Cubs fans are for potential franchise savers in Javier Baez and Jorge Soler. The latter made his Major League debut on Wednesday evening, batting fifth and playing right field. His first swing of the bat aided the ball to land well beyond the left centerfield fence for a home run. Well worth the wait for Cubs fans.

Technically, Mat Latos would not get hit with the label of “quality” start in his second appearance against Chicago on the year, but all it took was a peak at some of the stuff Latos displayed tonight to understand that he was in ace mode from the second inning on.

After back-to-back home runs from Luis Valbuena and Soler to lead off the second inning, Latos kicked it into gear. With a walk to Valbuena to lead off the fourth, Latos would go on to retire 12 of the next 13 batters he would face.

Feeling like he has been hexed by his offense and bullpen as of late, Latos finally pitched in a game in which the Reds came out on the smiling side. It took the offense bringing the lumber against Jacob Turner in order to do so.

Making the start in left field was Skip Schumaker, who took full advantage of his opportunity on Wednesday. First, he would slash a RBI double to left field to bring in Devin Mesoraco in the second before singling home Kristopher Negron in the fourth. As the nightmare of a fourth inning continued for Turner, Skip would eventually come around to score on an error by Starlin Castro.

On two balls that the Reds batters could not have rolled out onto the field any better, the Chicago Cubs committed two costly errors. At the time, it only buried them deeper in a deficit, but had they not taken place, the outcome of the game may have been mighty different. With errors from Luis Valbuena and Castro occurring, the Reds would take on three additional runs in the fourth inning on RBI base hits from Brandon Phillips and Devin Mesoraco to take a 6-2 lead.

Slamming on the breaks after having been in cruise control for so long, Latos would allow two base hits to start the eighth inning, meaning Jonathan Broxton would be coming on to begin the process of slamming the door.

The first two batters to face Broxton hit absolute rockets, with the first being a two-RBI double off the bat of Javier Baez, which was his first and only hit of the series thus far. The next batter, Starlin Castro, came so close to a home run that he did not even bother to run out of the box. Being stuck at first base may have ultimately cost his team a run.

Broxton would walk the tightrope after Jorge Soler’s second run-scoring hit of the game, as he got Welington Castillo to bounce into a crucial 4-6-3 double play to end the frame.

With the lead dwindled down to just a single run, Chris Heisey figured Aroldis Chapman could use some insurance. Swinging a new tan-colored bat, Heisey hit a no-doubter of a blast off Zac Rosscup to start the eighth inning and push the Reds ahead 7-5.

It would have been sweet redemption for Javier Baez to crank a go-ahead, three-run blast off Aroldis Chapman in the ninth, but it was just not meant to be as the ball died on the warning track. Off the bat, Chapman thought it might have left the yard. As he craned his neck and waited, the breath of an entire fan base held, hoping Billy Hamilton would have room. He squeezed and hauled in the deep drive, securing a Reds victory.

Back at it early Thursday afternoon, Dylan Axelrod will be making his second start as a member of the Reds. He squares off with one of the Cubs hottest pitchers in Jake Arrieta, who was turned his career around after leaving Baltimore. A 12:35 start time is in order for what will be the rubber match and the final time these two clubs meet in Cincinnati in 2014.