Ludwick, Reds back Latos, move above .500

Outfielder delivers in clutch again; Cincy gets another crucial overturn

Ludwick, Reds back Latos, move above .500

MIAMI -- Normally something like back-to-back wins for a team doesn't garner much more than a passing mention. For a Reds club desperately trying to put the pieces back together after a bad start to the second half, Friday night's outcome was important.

A 5-2 victory over the Marlins gave the Reds back-to-back wins for the first time since a five-game winning streak July 6-9. It also put the team back to a game over .500 at 55-54.

"You certainly don't gain ground playing .500 ball, let alone 4-10 since the break," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "We've kind of had to dig ourselves out of the hole we've been in before. It's something we're capable of doing. You get that feeling again like we're starting to get that confidence and the flow and the good feeling about ourselves back and the optimism. Those are all good things."

Ryan Ludwick now has four RBIs in his last two games, and all of them were big. Ludwick delivered the go-ahead runs on Thursday for a Reds win over the Marlins, but his feat was clouded by controversy from an overturned call that tied the game in the eighth inning just before his at-bat.

On Friday, it was Ludwick again who came through with the big hit -- a sixth-inning, two-run double -- that his team needed to snap a 1-1 tie.

"Obviously, we're chasing a lot of teams in the standings," Ludwick said. "Every win we can get, especially a team like this that's battling for the Wild Card out with us, it's nice."

In the fourth inning just after Todd Frazier made it a 1-0 game on a single through the right side, Ludwick scorched a ball down the left-field line. It was a close call, but ruled foul. He ended up hitting a scorcher to third base again that was caught, and the Reds did not add on.

Facing Marlins starting pitcher Jared Cosart, who arrived Thursday in a six-player trade with the Astros, Cincinnati rallied again with one out in the sixth. Following Jay Bruce's walk, Frazier hit a comebacker that skipped off Cosart for a single, and Devin Mesoraco's walk loaded the bases.

Reliever Chris Hatcher replaced Cosart, and his 1-2 inside fastball was lifted by Ludwick for a soft line drive near the left-field line that scored Bruce and Frazier.

"I feel like the baseball gods were kind of on my side, because the at-bat before, I hit the line drive at the third baseman," Ludwick said. "I think a lot of people thought [the foul ball] was fair. I ended up getting the job done later in the game."

Skip Schumaker's sacrifice fly was next, and it provided a three-run lead. It was only the second time in the 14 games since the All-Star break that the Reds scored more than three runs. Their last game with at least five runs was a 6-3 win over the Pirates on July 13.

"It's a great team victory. We dodged a few bullets," Price said.

The team Price referred to even included a member who doesn't wear a uniform -- video scouting director Rob Coughlin, who monitors the game in the clubhouse for potential replay challenges.

In the fifth inning following a two-out RBI single by Jordany Valdespin, Reds starter Mat Latos soon found himself in a bases-loaded pinch after walking Casey McGehee. On a Garrett Jones grounder to Frazier at first base, Latos covered the bag in time, but the play was ruled safe, allowing Valdespin to cross the plate. Giancarlo Stanton tried sneaking home from second base, but time had been called by Mesoraco.

A managerial challenge by Price overturned the out call and kept the game tied.

"What really saved our bacon was Rob Coughlin getting a good look at the replay on that shovel throw that Frazier gave to Latos for what appeared to be the last out of the inning," Price said. "Our good fortune was that Rob Coughlin nailed the review, and we were able to challenge it and get the last out."

Latos retired his final seven batters in a row and finished with one run and five hits allowed over seven innings. He walked four and struck out five.

"I battled, that's for sure," Latos said. "I had to bear down when I needed to and made some good pitches. I think the offense is what picked me up today. It was a good game all around. I went out there and just tried to give them as many innings as I could and make my pitches. Thankfully I was able to."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.