Cubs-Reds Preview

The Associated Press

The Cincinnati Reds' Mat Latos is having a stellar month, but he hasn't gotten the full benefit from his efforts.

That's hardly the right-hander's main concern.

Instead, he's focused on the Reds' drive toward an NL Central title and will try to provide another strong outing in Sunday's series finale against the visiting Chicago Cubs.

Latos (10-3, 3.63 ERA) has allowed only one run over his three starts in August, spanning 21 1-3 innings, but hasn't gotten enough support to earn victories in each of his last two outings. In the latest of those, he held the New York Mets scoreless over seven innings Tuesday but the Reds didn't score until the ninth of their 3-0 win.

"I couldn't care less about a win right now," he told the team's website. "As long as this team wins ballgames, it doesn't matter who gets the win. Put an infielder on the mound, as long as we get a 'W,' that's all that really matters to me."

Latos, who is also 3-0 with a 1.31 ERA over his last five outings, will try to keep things going in his first matchup with the Cubs this season. He's 2-2 with a 3.47 ERA in his four previous meetings, but gave up two hits and struck out nine over seven innings of a 2-0 win for San Diego on Sept. 26.

In this game, he'll pitch opposite Chris Volstad (0-9, 6.96), who is winless over his last 23 major league starts. The right-hander, who earned his most recent victory July 10, 2011, is 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in three starts since being called up from the minors Aug. 1. He gave up four runs over five innings Tuesday in a 10-1 loss to last-place Houston.

"Just keep going. That's all you can do," he told the team's website. "The past is in the past. The only thing I'm concerned with is my next game."

In his previous outing, Volstad allowed three runs over six innings in Chicago's 5-3 victory over Cincinnati. He also gave up six runs over five innings against the Reds in a 9-4 defeat at Wrigley Field on April 20.

Making his first visit to Cincinnati, Volstad will try to help his struggling club split its four-game series at the Great American Ball Park. The Cubs (47-72) are 4-14 in their last 18 but snapped a nine-game road losing streak with a 9-7 victory in the finale of Saturday's doubleheader.

Cincinnati, which owns a 6 1/2-game lead over Pittsburgh in the division, nearly erased an 8-2 deficit in the nightcap.

"It's tough to sweep a doubleheader," outfielder Ryan Ludwick said. "We had opportunities. They came out and scored a big run at the end. Our backs were against the wall, but we scratched and clawed and fought and gave ourselves a chance."

The Reds (73-48) earned one of their seven wins in the last nine games during the opener of that twinbill.

Ludwick will try to help lead the Reds to another victory while continuing his power surge. He hit two homers in Saturday's loss and has six homers over his last nine games.

Ludwick is hitting .393 with five homers and 11 RBIs in his last eight games against the Cubs, and is 2 for 4 with a double and four RBIs lifetime against Volstad.

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