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Reds roll into San Diego in 2nd place
SAN DIEGO (TAYLOR BECHTOLD/STATS/AP) -- The Cincinnati Reds are making a strong midseason push behind an outstanding stretch from their rotation.
There's no reason to believe they can't continue that trend against the light-hitting San Diego Padres.
As former Padres ace Mat Latos makes his fourth start, the Reds will try to extend their longest winning streak of the season to six games Monday night in their series opener in San Diego.
Cincinnati starters have posted a 1.14 ERA during the team's run after Homer Bailey didn't allow a hit until two outs in the seventh inning Sunday before finishing a three-hitter in a 4-0 victory at San Francisco.
With their sweep in the four-game road set, the Reds (43-38) have won their last five series and are 6-0-1 in their past seven. They've also gained three games on St. Louis during an 8-1 stretch to move into second place in the NL Central.
''We ran into four starters as dominant as four starters I've ever seen before,'' Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. ''They are as hot as any team."
The Reds now hope to get another solid performance from Latos (1-0, 2.89 ERA), who spent 2009-11 in San Diego. He's seeking his second consecutive win after giving up one run over a season-high seven innings in Wednesday's 4-1 victory at Wrigley Field.
The right-hander's fastball has been clocked in the low 90s since returning from right elbow and left knee surgeries that kept him out for most of the season.
''We know he is a guy that is able to reach 96, 97, in the years past, but I think it is part of the process in building up arm strength after the surgery," manager Bryan Price said.
Latos has surrendered only two runs with 14 strikeouts over 13 innings in his two career starts as an opponent at Petco Park. He's 12-13 with a 2.99 ERA in 33 starts there overall dating to his time with San Diego.
''It almost like getting somebody in a trade, not having him all year and have him come back and pitch well so far since he's been back,'' said Jay Bruce, who was batting .457 over a nine-game hitting streak before going 0 for 3 Sunday. ''It's something we definitely welcome and look forward to as a team.''
Opposing pitchers certainly have been looking forward to facing the Padres (35-47), who have totaled four runs while hitting .130 in their last four games. They also rank last in the majors with a .212 average and 3.0 runs per game.
Cameron Maybin, however, keyed a two-run fourth inning with an RBI double Sunday as San Diego snapped a three-game skid with a 2-1 home win over Arizona.
The Padres have provided Jesse Hahn (3-1, 2.38) with 14 runs of support during his three-start winning streak. The rookie right-hander hasn't exactly needed the added offense, posting a 0.95 ERA over that stretch.
Hahn may have to cool off Cincinnati's Todd Frazier, who is hitting .344 with three homers and 11 RBIs in his last 14 games. The third baseman, though, is 0 for 12 with six strikeouts in his last four games in San Diego.
Joey Votto is 3 for 21 over his last six contests, but he's batting .390 in his last 12 visits to Petco Park.
The Reds lost two of three at home to the Padres from May 13-15 and dropped two of three in San Diego last July.