Nolasco hopes to pitch Marlins to series sweep of Reds

Right-hander Ricky Nolasco goes for a fourth straight victory for himself - and a series sweep for his team - when the Miami Marlins host the Cincinnati Reds in the finale of a three-game weekend series at Marlins Park.

A 29-year-old Californian, Nolasco fell to 9-12 on the season when he dropped a 5-3 decision at Colorado on Aug. 16, then allowed five runs in five innings of a no-decision at Arizona seven days later.

He reached double-digit wins for 2012 by beating Washington, 9-0, on Aug. 28 with a complete-game gem, and has since followed it up with a seven-inning effort in beating Milwaukee and another complete-game defeat of the Nationals to get to 12-12 overall.

In the three latest victories, he's given up just one earned run on 18 hits in 25 innings, while the Marlins have outscored their foes, 24-3.

Nolasco is 3-1 lifetime against the Reds with a 4.99 earned run average across 52 1/3 innings in nine appearances.

He'll be opposed by right-hander Mat Latos, who attended Broward Community College in Florida and can improve to 6-1 in his 13th road start.

The 24-year-old pitched seven innings of five-hit, two-run ball while beating Arizona, 6-2, in his last outing away from home, walking three batters and striking out seven and lowering his road ERA to 4.00.

He's pitched twice at home since and earned a win and a no-decision while giving up four runs on nine hits in 13 innings.

A first-year Red after an offseason trade with San Diego, Latos is 5-1 in his last 10 starts and has pitched at least seven innings in seven of those 10 games - in which the Reds are 8-2.

He lost an 8-3 decision to the Marlins in his first start with Cincinnati on April 7.

On Saturday, Mark Buehrle pitched effectively into the eighth inning and Carlos Lee's two-run homer proved to be the difference, as the Marlins held off the Reds, 6-4.

Buehrle (13-12) allowed four runs on sevens hits with seven strikeouts over 7 2/3 frames to earn the victory. Mike Dunn recorded the final out in the eighth and Steve Cishek worked around a two-out single in the ninth to secure his 14th save of the season.

Lee finished with three RBI, while Giancarlo Stanton added a two-run triple and also scored a run for the Marlins, who have taken the first two contests of the three-game set.

Johnny Cueto (17-9) took his third straight loss after giving up six runs on nine hits and a pair of walks in just 4 1/3 innings.

"He was either wild high or missing away," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "When he came in there with strikes, it was down the heart of the plate about belt high. Those are the ones that hurt him."

Ryan Ludwick clubbed a two-run homer in the eighth for Cincinnati, which still holds an 11-game lead over St. Louis atop the National League's Central Division.

The Reds won two of three when the teams played their only previous series of 2012, from April 5-8 in Cincinnati. The Marlins and Reds split six games last season.