Latos Sharp in Post Season Tune-Up

Coming into the final day of the season the Reds are still in the hunt for the top best record in the league and the top postseason seed that comes with it thanks to a 3-1 win at St. Louis behind Mat Latos. Their 97-54 record is the highest win total since 1976. If they win their finale they will still need a National loss against Philadelphia to overcome the head-to-head tiebreaker.

The Reds bounced back from a series opening loss to take game the second game at St. Louis. The offense put up only three runs but that was plenty behind Mat Latos's final tune-up before post season in the 3-1 victory. The right-hander overcame a first-inning run and retired the final eight hitters he faced including four consecutive strikeouts in a five-inning tune up. The win raised his record to 14-4 and dropped his ERA below 3.5.

The win also defeated former Red nemesis Chris Carpenter. The veteran did turn in a quality start in his third appearance of the season. He allowed three runs over six innings with seven strikeouts, but Latos out-pitched him. The Cards only run came on Matt Holiday's 102nd RBI of the season when he drove in John Jay in the first inning.

The Reds erased their early deficit on a solo home run by Scott Rolen in the fourth inning. Joey Votto led off the fifth with a walk and advanced to third on a Ryan Ludwick double. Jay Bruce plated the go-ahead run with a single before Dioner Navarro added on with another base hit. Rolen and Navarro had two hits each while Votto went 1-2 with two walks.

Sam LeCure, Sean Marshall, and Jonathan Broxton held the Cards scoreless for three innings before Aroldis Chapman notched his 38th save. The Cuban left-hander returned to familiar territory above the 100 mph mark on thirteen of his sixteen pitches. It was the hardest velocity he's thrown since missing ten days to shoulder fatigue.

On the final day of the regular season the Reds will still be alive for the best record in the league and the top seed that comes with it. The win also gave them their highest season total since 1976. They have an identical record with Washington now at 97-64, but the Nationals own the head-to-head tiebreaker and can clinch with a home win against Philadelphia. Meanwhile there was a playoff atmosphere in Busch Stadium as the Cardinals were trying to nail down the final wild card spot. They achieved that despite the loss by virtue of Dodger loss at home to the Giants.

Latos's fourteenth win matched his career high total. His ERA this season matched the number he put up in 2011. That is impressive considering that since last year his home venue changed from the most pitcher-friendly park in the league to one of the more friendly ones for batters. After a rocky start in April he went 12-2 with a 3.13 ERA in his final 27 appearances.

The difference between the numbers one and two seeds means either traveling to San Francisco to open the divisional series or awaiting the winner of the wild card series. Since this is the first season that a second wild card team has qualified for post season there is no history on how teams have fared coming from an extra play-in round against a higher seed awaiting them. The two clubs face off again in their regular season finales Wednesday. Homer Bailey is expected to take the mound for the first time after his no-hitter while the Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has yet to announce his starter after last night's clinch.

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