Latos ‘unstoppable’ as Reds rout Cardinals in series opener

“Unstoppable,” a song by Foxy Shazam, a Cincinnati-based rock band, plays at Great American Ball Park after every Reds win.

It’s unlikely the Cardinals have the song on their iPods. They began this series with 10 wins in 15 games against the Reds this year, so they haven’t heard these lyrics often.

“We are unstoppable.”

“No, we can’t be defeated.”

“We are unstoppable.”

“No, we don’t need a reason.”

“We are unstoppable.”

For one day at least, the Reds lived up to that chorus, beating St. Louis 7-2 on Monday. Reds starter Mat Latos, in particular, was unstoppable. He gave up two runs in the third inning. That was it. One Cardinal reached base in the last six innings. Meanwhile, the Reds scored six runs in the first four innings.

Latos (14-5, 2.98 ERA) matched his career high with 14 wins and pitched the fourth complete game of his career and first of the season. He now has three wins in five starts against St. Louis in 2013. The Reds (77-61) trimmed the Cardinals’ lead in the wild-card race to 2½ games.

“The offense gave me six runs early,” Latos said. “To get run support like that early in the game, it takes a lot of the pressure off. I don’t have to be too perfect against a team that swings the bat really well. The defense also chipped in today.”

Shin-Soo Choo, Jay Bruce, Ryan Ludwick, Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart all had two hits. Choo and Joey Votto homered. Every position player except Brandon Phillips and Devin Mesoraco drove in at least one run.

Still, Latos was the star. He showed why he’s now the staff ace and why he would probably be called upon to start against the Cardinals if these teams meet in the one-game wild-card playoff.

“He’s maturing as a player,” Ludwick said. “I saw him in San Diego. I’m really proud of him. I’ve seen him grow up a lot. He’s really thriving in those big-game situations. I think he’s a future Cy Young award winner. It’s just a matter of time before that happens. I think you see his emotions on the field. He controls them better now. He attacks hitters. He’s got some of the best stuff in the league, no doubt about it.”

Latos wanted a bigger workload when Johnny Cueto went on the disabled list early in the season. Cueto went to the DL twice more, and his status for the rest of September is uncertain.

Latos has responded by going deeper and deeper into games. He has lasted at least eight innings in three of his last five starts after doing that once in his first 23 starts.

Latos credited manager Dusty Baker for letting him be himself.

“I’m not a cookie cutter,” he said. “That’s the way it is. It’s just him having the confidence in me to go out there again. I’ve showed him. I told him I want to show him I can pick up more of the workload and keep going deeper into the ballgames. He’s given me the opportunity and trusts my word.”

Latos needed 100 pitches to beat the Cardinals. He was asked after the eighth inning if he could go one more.

“I told them I was great,” he said. “I said, ‘Chapman can sit for a while. I’m good to go.’ ”

The Reds still trail the Pirates by 3½ games with 24 games remaining in the regular season. Pittsburgh beat Milwaukee 5-2 on Monday.

The Diamondbacks (69-67) lost 4-1 to the Blue Jays and now trail the Reds by seven games in the race for the second wild card.

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