Zack Cozart unleashed bad throws Monday and Tuesday, and Dusty Baker was asked Wednesday if Cozart’s hand was still bothering him. Maybe that was the reason for the rare errors by the usually sharp Reds shortstop.
“He’s fine,” Baker said. “Every time a guy makes a bad throw, there’s not something wrong with him.”
Cozart proved those mistakes were an aberration Wednesday with a big play against the Cubs in a 1-0 victory that gave the Reds an 8-2 record on the homestand. With two outs in the eighth and runners on second and third, he swooped across the middle of the infield to spear a groundball and threw to first to nip David DeJesus.
“You’ve got to have that defense,” Baker said. “Defense saves games. That was a game-saver today. If that ball goes up the middle, they get two. Even if he stops it, they get one.”
Reliever Jonathan Broxton pumped his fist in celebration as he left the mound. With Aroldis Chapman coming on in the ninth, that was sure to be the Cubs’ last chance, and it was. Chapman had his 11th scoreless outing in 12 tries.
Cozart popped into a double play in the first and grounded into a double play in the seventh, so he was happy to contribute with his glove.
“I went a long way to get the ball,” he said. “I was going to throw it no matter what just because it was two outs and you never know. When I threw it, I saw out of the corner of my eye because I fell down that (DeJesus) wasn’t that close to the bag. I was kind of shocked because he can run well. I’ve been struggling at the plate, so when I make plays like that, it feels pretty good.”
The Reds scored their only run in the sixth. Todd Frazier hit a 480-foot blast that might have landed in Kentucky if it hadn’t hit the steamship above the fence in center field. Frazier’s team-best sixth home run of the season was the seventh-longest home run in the history of Great American Ball Park.
The Reds had plenty of other chances to score, but they left seven men on base. Even when they got the last two batters in the order, Devin Mesoraco and pitcher Mat Latos, on base to open the third, they couldn’t advance them to third base. In fact, Frazier was the only Red to advance past second.
Latos made sure the Reds didn’t need any more runs. He earned his first win of the season in his fifth start, all of which have been quality starts. He has thrown 11 straight scoreless innings in all.
“The plan was just to attack,” he said. “Keep the ball down, minimize the damage and just go to work. I got away with a bunch of stuff today. I didn’t have my best stuff. I didn’t have my curveball the whole game. I didn’t have my slider. I was basically working on my fastball and two-seamer.”
Reds at Nationals, 7:05 p.m., FS Ohio, 700, 1410