The Sports Xchange

MLB Team Report - Cincinnati Reds - INSIDE PITCH

ST. LOUIS -- The Cincinnati Reds, who were expected to contend for the National League Central title, are closing out a disappointing season. They collapsed after the All-Star break and will finish with a losing record.

However, there were bright spots for the Reds. The most unexpected might have been Alfredo Simon's performance as a starting pitcher.

Simon pitched Cincinnati to a 7-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday night, his 15th victory of the season. That is two fewer than he amassed in his first 177 major league games, with Simon spending most of that time working out of the bullpen. While he was a reliable reliever for Cincinnati the last two years, he was inserted into the rotation only because Mat Latos started the year on the disabled list.

Simon never moved back to the bullpen. He went 12-3 in the season's first half to earn his first All-Star Game trip, and although he struggled for most of the second half, he gained a second wind in September.

While Simon didn't offer much in the way of analysis on his latest accomplishment, he allowed that he was happy with reaching 15 wins. So was manager Bryan Price.

"He really battled his tail off," Price said. "It's great to see him finishing strong."

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MLB Team Report - Cincinnati Reds - NOTES, QUOTES

RECORD: 80-76

STREAK: Lost one

NEXT: Brewers (RHP Mike Fiers, 6-3, 1.78 ERA) at Reds (RHP Johnny Cueto, 18-9, 2.33 ERA)

PLAYER NOTES:

--RHP Mat Latos, who missed his past two scheduled starts due to a bone bruise in his right elbow, was shut down for the season Sunday. In 15 starts this year, Latos went 5-5 with a 5.25 ERA. RHP Daniel Corcino will start again in Latos' place Wednesday against the Brewers.

--RHP Alfredo Simon added to his career-high win total Sunday night, bagging his 15th while working through a calf cramp that hit him in the fifth inning. Simon scattered seven hits and two runs in six innings, walking two and fanning three. Simon had a 17-inning scoreless streak snapped in the fifth, but he was still good enough to beat St. Louis for the second time this month.

--RHP Johnny Cueto (18-9) has two starts remaining this season, and he will try for win No. 19 Tuesday night when he faces Milwaukee at Great American Ball Park. Cueto is coming off a rough start Sept. 16, when he lost 7-0 against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. He gave up six runs on five hits and five walks over 5 2/3 innings. Cueto is 6-3 with a 3.22 ERA in 15 career starts against the Brewers, winning both of his outings this year.

--1B Joey Votto (strained left quadriceps) took batting practice and ran the bases before games over the weekend, but it is unlikely that he will return to action in the last week of the season. Votto has missed 94 games this year, including every game since July 8, when he went on the DL for the second time this year. Votto is hitting .255-6-23, although his on-base percentage is a robust .390 as he has 47 walks in 272 plate appearances.

--C Devin Mesoraco (stomach flu) was back in the lineup Sunday night, going 1-for-4 with a game-breaking three-run homer in the eighth. Mesoraco left Saturday night's game before the bottom of the sixth inning after doubling and scoring on a sacrifice fly in the top of the inning. His 23 homers as a catcher are the most for a Cincinnati backstop since Johnny Bench clouted 23 in 1980. Mesoraco has 24 homers overall this year.