Latos leads Reds into matchup with Brewers

Cincinnati ace Mat Latos aims for a fourth straight victory on Saturday afternoon when the Reds host the Milwaukee Brewers in game two of a three-game series at Great American Ball Park.

Latos, acquired before last season from the San Diego Padres, was 14-4 with a 3.48 earned run average in his initial year with the Reds - working alongside 19-game winner Johnny Cueto.

He's stepped into the premier starter's role this season while Cueto has spent much of the initial weeks on the disabled list with an injury to his right- side lat muscle.

Latos got no-decisions in his first four starts through April 19, but has since defeated the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals and the Cubs again while allowing 15 hits and just three runs in 18 innings.

The Reds are 5-2 in games he's started.

Latos is 1-2 in five career meetings with the Brewers.

He's opposed by Puerto Rican rookie Hiram Burgos, who makes the fourth start of his inaugural big-league season.

The 25-year-old debuted with a victory against the Cubs on April 20, winning a 5-1 decision after giving up a run on five hits in five innings.

He's picked up no-decisions in two subsequent Milwaukee losses while allowing eight hits and five runs in 13 innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers and Pittsburgh.

Burgos opened 2013 with three starts at Triple-A Nashville, where he was 0-2 with a 2.70 earned run average in 16 2/3 innings, walking seven batters and striking out 15.

On Friday, Brandon Phillips homered, drove in a pair of runs and possibly saved several others with a sensational play in the field as the Reds opened the series with a 4-3 victory.

Zack Cozart and Jay Bruce each drove in a run for the Reds, who were coming off a series loss to the Braves but have still won five of their last seven games.

Alfredo Simon (3-1) threw two scoreless innings to highlight a strong relief effort behind Tony Cingrani, who needed 85 pitches to get through four frames. The rookie lefty gave up five hits and two runs -- both on homers by Jean Segura and Ryan Braun in the fourth inning.

Yovani Gallardo (3-2) also labored through his four-inning start and was charged with three runs on five hits and five walks to take the loss.

"Throwing (100) pitches in four innings is not what he normally does. I know he's not a guy who is going to go nine innings and throw 80 pitches, but it is still unusual to do that," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said.

The Reds won nine of 15 games with the Brewers in 2012 and the teams split their series, 8-8, in 2011. Milwaukee hasn't won the season series since 2006.