CHICAGO (AP)—The Cincinnati Reds aren’t hitting much and their bullpen is tired. Mat Latos made sure they wouldn’t need much of a contribution from either area to beat the slumping Chicago Cubs.
Latos pitched eight scoreless innings, and Brandon Phillips hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning to lead the Reds to a 2-0 win over All-Star Travis Wood and the Cubs on Monday night.
Latos, 4-0 with a 1.32 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.
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. He also helped pick up an offense that has scored just six runs in three games.
”I had real good stuff,” Latos said. ”I was able to rely on the fastball and the slider all game. I threw one other pitch beside the fastball and the slider.”
Cincinnati left fielder Ryan Ludwick returned from the disabled list and went 0 for 3. He had been out since April 1 when he tore cartilage in his right shoulder while sliding headfirst into third base against the Los Angeles Angels.
Though Ludwick didn’t produce much, Latos didn’t need anything else. When Aroldis Chapman struck out the side in the ninth inning for his 28th save in 32 tries, Cincinnati had its 10th win in 12 games over the Cubs this season.
The Reds are 13-1 in their last 14 games at Wrigley Field. They also continued the Cubs’ home scoring woes.
Chicago has gone 32 2-3 innings without scoring a run at Wrigley Field, and was shut out there for the third straight game. That hadn’t happened since Aug. 20-21, 1924.
”It’s funny. We’re scoring in bigger parks and stuff on the road and we can’t seem to muster up anything at home,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. ”We have no slugging percentage at home right now.”
Cincinnati didn’t have much of a slugging percentage, either, against former Reds pitcher Travis Wood.
Wood (7-9) posted his 20th quality start but took the loss. He went eight innings and allowed Phillips’ homer among four hits. Wood struck out four and walked only one, but the Cubs lost for the 11th time in 15 games.
”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.”
Latos and Chapman did the same to the Cubs, who didn’t get their first hit until Donnie Murphy singled with two outs in the fifth. Darwin Barney followed with a single that moved Murphy to third. Latos ended the threat by getting Wood to fly out to left.
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.
”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.”
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.
But Wood made one too many mistakes to beat Latos, giving the Reds their fifth win in six games.
”From pitch one (Latos) was hitting every spot and making the pitches, so I felt like, ‘OK, you have to step it up and make sure we can’t fall behind here,”’ Wood said. ”Hats off to him, he was outstanding tonight. He outpitched me.”
NOTES: Cincinnati optioned OF Derrick Robinson to Triple-A Louisville to make room for Ludwick. . Mesoraco went 1 for 3 after playing all 13 innings on Sunday. When asked about playing Mesoraco on Monday, Baker cited his average against left-handers (.339), his familiarity with Latos, and his age (25). … The Cubs promoted Kris Bryant, the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft, from short-season Boise to Class-A Advanced Daytona. . 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).