CINCINNATI (AP) — The bottom of the Cincinnati batting order is putting the Reds on top.
Eighth-place hitter Zack Cozart sent a three-run homer off the left-field foul pole and Kristopher Negron added a two-run shot, lifting the Reds over the Cleveland Indians 8-3 Wednesday night.
Cozart, now batting .225, drove in four runs with two hits. On Tuesday night, light-hitting Ramon Santiago launched a three-run homer in a 9-2 victory over Cleveland.
"We have to pick up some slack," Cozart said. "We can't depend on the big guys every night."
Getting off to a lead is a difference maker," Reds manager Bryan Price said.
Mat Latos pitched shutout ball into the eighth inning and chipped in with a hit.
Latos (4-3), making his 10th start since opening the season on the disabled list and being activated on June 14, allowed just one runner past second base before Yan Gomes led off Cleveland's three-run eighth with his 16th homer.
Ryan Raburn chased Latos with a pinch-hit, two-run double.
Latos gave up six hits and three runs with two walks and five strikeouts in 7 2-3 innings.
Cozart, who hadn't homered since June 1 at Arizona, connected off Danny Salazar (4-5) with two outs in the second. Cozart's third homer of the season was the first allowed by Salazar in five starts since May 15 at Toronto.
"It felt good," Cozart said. "It is not only getting hits but extra-base hits. Our pitchers have been pitching so well. We don't want them to go home empty."
Negron made it 5-0 with a two-out drive in the fourth. The homer was his third of the season, all since being called up from Triple-A Louisville on July 10.
"These guys want badly to succeed. It's good to see their hard work paying off," Price said.
Cozart was excited for Negron, too.
"Every time he gets a chance to play, he takes advantage of his playing time," said Cozart of Negron, who was taken off the 40-man roster after he had four at-bats in 2012, his only big league experience until now.
Salazar lasted four innings while seeing his personal winning streak snapped at a career-high three. He allowed five hits and five runs with five strikeouts.