It didn't take long for the Cincinnati Reds' Shin-Soo Choo to have an impact against his former team.
Choo and the surging Reds try to hand the Cleveland Indians a season worst-tying fifth consecutive loss as these Ohio rivals meet again Tuesday night in Cincinnati.
Acquired from Cleveland (27-23) in a three-team trade this offseason, Choo led off the bottom of the first inning with his team-leading 10th homer then scored on Joey Votto's tiebeaking two-run shot in the eighth during Monday's 4-2 win. Choo, who entered the day mired in a 1-for-21 slump, raised his average back up to .290.
Votto is batting .448 with five homers, 18 runs and 12 RBIs over his last 15 games. He's also hitting .325 with eight home runs and 19 RBIs in his last 13 home matchups against the Indians.
"Whether he's frustrated or had two bad at-bats previous to his last at-bat, you never count that guy out," Monday's starter Mike Leake told MLB's official website.
While Cincinnati (32-19) has won six off seven and 13 of its last 16, the Indians have been going in the opposite direction.
Cleveland has dropped six of seven, including its last four by a 25-12 margin. Carlos Santana has two hits in 14 at-bats over that stretch and Michael Bourn is 2 for 12. Drew Stubbs, acquired in the Choo trade, singled Monday but is 4 for his last 26.
"This is a little bit of a tough stretch," manager Terry Francona said. "We're getting tested, and we're going to figure it out. We're going to battle through it."
The Indians, who dropped five straight April 14-19, have been outscored 35-16 during a five-game losing streak in Cincinnati. These clubs play two more games in Cleveland following Tuesday's contest.
The Indians will try to get back on track behind Zach McAllister (4-3, 2.89 ERA), who's yielded three earned runs or fewer in all nine of his outings. He surrendered three and five hits over five innings Thursday in a 12-3 victory at Boston.
Cleveland has won each of McAllister's last five starts, during which he's gone 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA. The right-hander, though, owns a 3.97 road ERA - nearly two runs higher than his 2.16 mark at home. He'll be making his first appearance versus Cincinnati.
The Reds give the ball to Mat Latos (4-0, 3.17), who didn't factor in the decision of Wednesday's 7-4 road win over the New York Mets. The right-hander allowed two runs over six innings before giving up two more in the seventh.
"Latos was very good," manager Dusty Baker said. "We just have to get him over that hump at kind of the same time in the game. Some kind of way, adverse things happened around the seventh (inning) or that 100-pitch mark."
Latos posted mixed results in two starts versus Cleveland last year. After scattering seven hits over seven innings of two-run ball in a 5-3 win June 13, he was tagged for seven runs over four innings during a 10-9 road loss five days later.
While things remained calm after Reds closer Aroldis Chapman threw two 100 mph fastballs up around Nick Swisher's head Monday, the umpiring crew will surely be keeping a close eye on things in this game.
"I've talked to Chapman plenty of times, and he's a great kid," Jason Giambi said after hitting a pinch-hit homer. "But we're going to protect our guys, too, especially Nick, who's a big leader on this ballclub."