Reds-Mets Preview

The Associated Press

Matt Harvey might be the most well-known undefeated pitcher taking the hill Wednesday afternoon, but he's not the only one.

The Cincinnati Reds will send Mat Latos to the mound as they attempt their second straight three-game series sweep of the New York Mets at Citi Field.

The Reds have not lost a series in New York since 2009 and have won 10 of the last 13 overall between the teams.

On Wednesday, however, the spotlight will be on Harvey (5-0, 1.55 ERA), who is third in the majors in ERA and seventh with 68 strikeouts. He survived a shaky first inning Friday against the Chicago Cubs, who reached him for two runs and three hits, by retiring 20 of 21 batters and provided a go-ahead RBI single in the seventh of a 3-2 victory.

"He had such a rough first inning," Mets manager Terry Collins said after Harvey allowed five hits overall in 7 1-3. "Then all the sudden he started cruising. He started getting a feel for it. I tell you, he is a horse, no doubt about it.''

Harvey has a 2.12 ERA entering his 20th career start, better than notable Mets Tom Seaver (2.78) and Dwight Gooden (2.91) at this point in their respective careers.

"This guy is different. He's not your run-of-the-mill young pitcher,'' Collins said. "This guy has got some savvy. He's got great confidence.''

Harvey has managed to avoid losing a game despite his offense leaving him little margin for error. He has received just nine runs of support over his last five starts from an offense that has been held to three or fewer runs in 13 of 16 games.

Harvey won his only start against the Reds (28-18), limiting them to one run and four hits while striking out eight in 7 2-3 innings of an 8-4 victory on Aug. 16.

Latos (4-0, 2.91) has had success against the Mets, posting a 2-1 record and 2.70 ERA in five lifetime starts. In his last appearance on Aug. 14, he scattered five hits and two walks in seven innings, but did not get a decision in Cincinnati's 3-0 win.

Latos could have been 5-0 if not for a rough ninth inning against the Marlins on Thursday. Latos surrendered two runs and four hits in 8 1-3 innings, but Aroldis Chapman failed to get the final two outs after Latos allowed a ninth-inning triple in Cincinnati's eventual 5-3, 10-inning victory.

It was a strong bounce-back performance after he surrendered a season-worst seven runs against Milwaukee in his previous start.

"Latos was dealing,'' manager Dusty Baker said. "That's as pitch-efficient as I've seen anybody.''

That's bad news for the Mets (17-26), who were shut out for the second time this season on Tuesday night. They are batting just .209 at home, which ranks last in the majors. Ike Davis is just 1 for his last 36, while Ruben Tejada (3 for 33) and John Buck (7 for 48) also are struggling.

"At this point we're not really getting many opportunities with runners in scoring position. So it's not about getting a big hit; it's about getting some runners out there and putting some pressure on the defense, putting some pressure on the pitcher because they're having 1-2-3 innings pretty regularly,'' David Wright said. "We've got a handful of guys that kind of are cold at the same time."

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