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Latos takes perfect record against Cubs to mound
CHICAGO (NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO/STATS/AP) -- Considering he hails from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, it's a safe bet Devin Mesoraco has heard a joke or two about the movie "Groundhog Day" over the years.
He just so happens to be living in a repetitive cycle right now - one he has no interest in seeing come to an end.
The hot-hitting catcher attempts to set a Cincinnati Reds record by homering for a sixth straight game Wednesday night against the Chicago Cubs.
Mesoraco is breaking out with a .320 average, 14 homers and 40 RBIs, and he's 11 for 24 with 13 RBIs in his last seven games. Those exploits have him living a real-life version of the 1993 movie based on the holiday that engrosses his hometown every Feb. 2.
His Groundhog Day includes homering in five straight games to tie the Reds record set by Ted Kluszewski in 1954 and matched by Johnny Bench (1972), Ken Griffey Jr. (2003) and Adam Dunn (2008).
Mesoraco waited until the last possible moment to add his name to the list Tuesday, connecting for a solo shot in the ninth of a 7-3 loss at Chicago - just Cincinnati's third in the past 21 games there.
"It was late in the game. All the other homers were to help the team win, and important, big homers," he said. "They actually meant a lot. That one didn't really help us come back, so it doesn't mean as much."
Mesoraco hit a grand slam the ninth inning of Monday's 6-1 win in the opener of this three-game set. He's 12 for 20 with three homers while plating nine runs over his past six meetings with the Cubs (32-43).
While another homer would set a team record, it would also make him the first major league player to go deep in six straight games since Baltimore's Chris Davis from Sept. 26-Oct. 2, 2012.
The Reds (38-38) will be hoping Mat Latos (0-0, 3.86 ERA) can continue his success versus the Cubs. The right-hander is 4-0 with a 1.98 ERA over his last six starts against them, and he's 3-0 with a 3.12 ERA in four career visits to Wrigley Field.
Latos was superb the last time he took the mound on the North Side, collecting nine strikeouts while scattering six hits in eight innings of a 2-0 win Aug. 12.
He wasn't close to being that effective in Friday's 14-9 loss to Toronto, giving up five runs and nine hits with three walks in 5 2-3 innings.
"I don't like taxing the bullpen. I'm extremely disappointed in myself to put it mildly," said Latos, who is getting the ball for a third time after returning from elbow and knee surgeries.
Chicago will counter with Edwin Jackson (5-7, 5.12) as it tries to win back-to-back home games versus Cincinnati for the first time since Aug. 5-6, 2011.
The right-hander has won three straight starts against the Reds behind a 3.44 ERA. He gave up two runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings of an 8-4 home win April 19, including a pair of doubles to Mesoraco.
Jackson is 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA over his last four home games, earning a 6-3 win over Pittsburgh on Friday. He struck out eight while allowing three runs in five innings.
That was a major improvement after allowing 11 runs in 10 2-3 innings while losing his previous two outings on the road.
Anthony Rizzo is 11 for 24 with three homers and six RBIs in his last six games. He's hit solo homers in the first two games of this series, but is 2 for 12 versus Latos.