Brewers-Reds Preview


The Cincinnati Reds are off to their best home start in 19 years.

Giving the ball to Mat Latos is likely to keep it that way.

Latos looks to become the first Reds pitcher in nine years to win eight straight decisions Saturday in a matchup with the struggling Milwaukee Brewers.

Cincinnati (20-16) is proving to be much better at home than on the road, winning a major league-best 14 times on its own field against six losses. It's the Reds' best start to their home schedule since going 15-5 at Riverfront Stadium in 1994.

They won again at home Friday, opening this series with a 4-3 win over Milwaukee (15-18), beating the NL Central rival for the eighth time in 10 home meetings.

Latos (3-0, 2.23 ERA) is looking to make it nine in 11, as he goes for a career-high eighth consecutive winning decision, which would be Cincinnati's longest winning streak since Paul Wilson won nine in a row Aug. 17, 2003-May 25, 2004.

Latos is 7-0 with a 2.25 ERA while holding opponents to a .225 average over his last 14 starts - 12 ending in Reds wins. The right-hander's streak includes a 1.50 ERA while winning each of his last three trips to the mound, and he went 1-0 with a 1.17 ERA in three starts versus the Brewers last year.

"If he has the kind of finish he had, who knows what he can do? Especially a young person that has the experience he's had and the time already, the next best thing is to try and keep him healthy," manager Dusty Baker told the team's official website. "He'll get better and better and better.

"We'd like to take him deeper in the games. That's the next step for him."

Latos didn't do that Monday, when he battled an illness as well as the Chicago Cubs to earn a 7-4 win in his shortest outing of the season. He tossed four scoreless innings before giving up three runs and leaving after the fifth.

While Latos is coming through on the mound, Brandon Phillips is on a tear at the plate. The second baseman is batting .357 with 10 RBIs in 11 games. He had an RBI single and a solo homer Friday, also turning a spectacular bare-handed double play to end the seventh.

The Brewers have lost seven of eight games this month thanks in large part to a 7.07 ERA from the rotation.

Now, they're scheduled to turn to Hiram Burgos (1-0, 3.00) for the first time since a 6-4 loss to Pittsburgh on May 1. The rookie right-hander didn't get a decision after giving up a pair of solo homers in seven innings.

A coupe of days off earlier this week caused Burgos to wait longer than usual for his fourth start, but he isn't concerned with the long layoff.

"I had to do it because the team needed it, and I was fine with that," Burgos told the team's official website. "I was still on the mound. I did my workouts. My arm feels good.

"(It's) more mental. I'm ready to pitch. Like I always say, I want the ball."

Brewers slugger Ryan Braun is hitting .419 over his last 11 games, but he has just four RBIs in that span with one coming on his eighth homer Friday. His 14 homers at Great American Ball Park are his highest total for any road venue.

Braun, though, is 1 for 14 with five strikeouts versus Latos.