Reds starter Mat Latos peeked out the door of the clubhouse, saw the media scrum coming and said, “The streak’s over.”
Latos had grown a little tired of hearing about how he hadn’t lost in his last 21 starts, a franchise-record streak that didn’t include his defeat in Game 5 of the National League Division Series last fall. The good news is he won’t have to hear about it anymore. The bad news is he pitched well enough Tuesday for it to continue — except in one inning.
The Pirates beat the Reds 4-0 in front of a crowd of 28,993 at Great American Ball Park because Latos gave up three runs in the first. Two close calls on the bases frustrated Latos, who walked two batters and gave up three hits in the inning.
“I got aggravated with myself,” Latos said. “I didn’t feel too well in the bullpen and kind of took it into the first. I beat myself today. It’s always a hard knock when you put your team in a 3-0 hole.”
Latos struck out nine batters in five innings and didn’t give up another hit after Pedro Alvarez’s two-run single in the first. The three relievers who followed Latos — Manny Parra, Curtis Partch and J.J. Hoover — combined to strike out eight more as the Reds matched a franchise record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game.
The Cincinnati offense, however, collected four hits and mounted two scoring threats. The Reds (43-29) have been shut out twice in the last four home games after not being shut out at home in the first 34 games and not at all last season.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game where you strike out (17) of the opposition in a nine-inning game and lose,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said.
Pittsburgh (42-29) now trails the Reds by a half game in the National League Central. St. Louis, which lost 4-2 to the Cubs, leads the Reds by 2½ games.
In addition to all the drama in the division race, the tension on the field continues to mount for the Reds and Pirates. A back-and-forth duel — Reds hit Pirates, Pirates hit Reds and on and on — continued Tuesday.
The first pitch Pirates starter Charlie Morton threw hit Shin-Soo Choo. Reds players shouted at Morton from the dugout as Choo winced in pain as he sat on the ground by the plate.
The feud hasn’t escalated into mutually-assured destruction, a brawl that would lead to suspensions — not yet at least.
“I just think it’s time somebody steps up and disciplines a team that has drilled the most guys in the league,” Latos said. “They’ve hit a lot of guys. Whether it was intentional or by accident, something has to be done about it.”
Pirates at Reds, 7:10 p.m., FS Ohio, 700, 1410