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Cincinnati Reds: Mat Latos, Brandon Phillips Shine in Victory

CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 12: Mat Latos #55 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Great American Ball Park on May 12, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Dan AllenCorrespondent IIMay 23, 2012

Tuesday night's victory over the Atlanta Braves proved to be an encouraging sign for the Cincinnati Reds.

Two of Cincinnati's struggling players, starter Mat Latos and second baseman Brandon Phillips, performed well in the 4-3 win. Latos pitched seven solid innings of two-run ball with eight strikeouts, while Phillips chipped in with two home runs and three RBI.

Latos had especially come under fire after the past offseason trade in which Latos was acquired from the San Diego Padres in return for Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal, Edinson Volquez and Brad Boxberger.

Prior to the game, Latos had a 2-2 record and a mediocre 4.63 ERA—nothing close to what Cincinnati expected when GM Walt Jocketty pulled the trigger on the offseason trade. Latos' ERA has been steadily dropping after a very poor start to the season, which saw his ERA balloon to an enormous 8.22 in April.

Entering the season, Phillips received a contract extension after lengthy extension talks reaching back to last season. His new six-year, $72 million extension came under fire after the soon-to-be 31-year-old Phillips' production took a dip with only two home runs, one steal and a sub-.300 on-base percentage through a quarter of the season.

Clearly struggling at the plate at times, Phillips' batting average hit a low at .215 in early May, but since then he has started to turn it around with a .275 average in 20 games this month. Phillips still has a long way to go, with a very poor 8-to-21 walk-to-strikeout ratio and only 10 extra-base hits on the season.

Rookie shortstop Zack Cozart also chipped in with a solo home run, and recently named closer Aroldis Chapman closed out the win with a hitless ninth. Center fielder Drew Stubbs went 1-for-3 with a walk and a steal while making a few plays in the field in another solid performance following Monday night's two-home run game.

Cincinnati's next game features rejuvenated Reds starter Bronson Arroyo taking on Tommy Hanson and the Braves once again at Great American Ballpark on Wednesday night.

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