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Reds leave disappointment behind, set for rematch with Pirates

The SportsXchange

PITTSBURGH -- The Cincinnati Reds had a chance to secure home field for the National League Wild Card game, but they failed miserably. They lost the first two games of the season-ending series with Pittsburgh, ensuring a trip to play the Pirates at PNC Park Tuesday.

"It's disappointing," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "But you've got to get over it. Championships have been won by teams with their backs to the wall, like San Francisco last year. We don't like it. But, if that's what you've got to do, that's what you've got to do."

The Reds lost four straight to let the home field slip away.

"You're only as good as your last at-bat," first baseman Joey Votto said. "You're only as good as your last game. This is a couple of games. I bet (the Pirates) were feeling down when we took two out of three in Pittsburgh. Now, we're in Cincinnati and they take the first two.

"You just keep playing. It just so happens that they get last at-bat in Pittsburgh."

The Reds will start opening day starter Johnny Cueto in Pittsburgh, as much out of necessity as anything. The Reds had Mat Latos lined up to to make the start. But it was revealed that Latos has floating bones chips in his elbow.

There's no question about it -- injury or not -- Johnny is still our ace," Votto said. "I know that Mat Latos, he's definitely put a lot of pressure on the pitching staff, challenging them through his performance and certainly set a really high standard. But Johnny, he was hurt a good percentage of the year and probably should have been an All-Star last year and received Cy Young votes. They just don't hand those things out. Johnny looks like the same Johnny, and that's why I think I call him our ace."

The Reds will face left-hander Francisco Liriano in the Pittsburgh. Liriano is 8-1 at PNC this year. He is 0-3 against the Reds. The Reds won both games he started in Pittsburgh.

"Tuesday is a new day," Baker said. "This hurts big time. But you can't bring it back. You've got to start over again."

Notes: Latos, who was expected to start the National League Wild Card game on Tuesday, developed bone chips in his throwing arm and will not be available until the division series. "I don't think we can take a chance," said Baker who didn't want to risk using Latos out of the bullpen on Tuesday. "Pretty sure he'll be fine by (the NLDS). "Those things float in and out until you get them taken care of." Latos is 14-7 with a 3.16 ERA in 32 starts. ... 2B Brandon Phillips left Saturday's game in the fifth inning after fouling a pitch off his left shin. X-Rays were negative. Baker said prior to Sunday's game that the swelling was down and Phillips was receiving treatment.
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