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MIA@CIN: Votto launches first homer of the season

CINCINNATI -- Right-hander Mat Latos, who made his much-anticipated Reds debut Saturday night before a sellout crowd at Great American Ball Park, was still feeling the butterflies after the game. Or was that nausea?

"I'm a little sick to my stomach," said Latos, who said he's his own worst critic.

Truth is, it was just a matter of time before the struggling Miami offense came to life. And unfortunately for Latos and the Reds, the Marlins chose Saturday.

Latos allowed four runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings, including a two-run single by Giancarlo Stanton that capped a three-run fifth for Miami, and Hanley Ramirez and John Buck each collected two-run homers off the Reds' bullpen as the Marlins rolled to an 8-3 victory in front of 41,662.

Joey Votto electrified the crowd, the largest since 1994 to witness the second game of the season in Cincinnati, with a two-run home run off Miami starter Ricky Nolasco in the fourth inning that briefly put the Reds ahead, 2-1, but Latos' control escaped him in the fifth. He finished with two walks and four strikeouts over 81 pitches.

"I was trying to be too fine," Latos said. "New ballclub, new scenery. I was just trying to do too much. I wanted the first impression to be good. [Johnny] Cueto threw a gem the other day. I was trying to be too perfect. It backfired and went the opposite way."

Zack Cozart added a solo home run in the eighth for the Reds. Cozart tied a career high with three hits, falling a double shy of the cycle.

Omar Infante went 3-for-5 with a double, triple and homer for Miami, which snapped a 13-inning scoreless streak. Entering Saturday's game, the Marlins had just one run in 18 innings to begin the season.

"You know they're going to hit sooner or later," said Reds manager Dusty Baker. "They've got a lot of hitters in their lineup. But they were hitting fastballs. [Latos] was a little over-amped, I think. He had a good breaking ball early."

Ricky Nolasco (1-0) pitched eight strong innings for Miami, allowing three runs and five hits while walking none and striking out five.

Latos, who was acquired from the Padres in December in exchange for Edinson Volquez and highly regarded prospects Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal and Brad Boxberger, entered Saturday having struggled against the Marlins in his career, going 0-2 with a 9.26 ERA in 11 2/3 innings.

Latos (0-1) started strong on this night, however, needing just 11 pitches to get through first inning. He allowed just two hits in the first three innings.

Emilio Bonifacio led off the fourth with a single, stole second and scored on Stanton's double down the third-base line to put Miami ahead, 1-0.

The Reds had just one hit off Nolasco through three innings, but they roughed him up in the fourth.

Cozart led off with a triple off the right-center-field wall. Votto followed with a 409-foot home run into the left-center-field seats, putting the Reds ahead, 2-1.

It was Votto's 116th home run as a first baseman, moving him into fifth place all-time among Reds first basemen. He had been tied with Dan Driessen.

Infante's solo homer tied the score at 2 leading off the fifth. And Stanton's two-run single made the score 4-2, prompting Baker to lift Latos in favor of Logan Ondrusek.

"I got Stanton into a count where he was going to see a fastball, obviously," Latos said.

Reds had runners on first and second with nobody out in the sixth, but Nolasco got Votto to roll into a double play. "It was obviously the biggest moment of the game," Nolasco said. "Obviously [Votto] is a great hitter. I wasn't going to give in to him like I did the other time. I threw another split, and he rolled it over."

Ramirez hit a two-run homer off Sam LeCure to put Miami ahead, 6-2, in the seventh.

Alfredo Simon, who made his Reds debut in the eighth, struck out the side, but also gave up a two-run homer to Buck to make the score 8-2.

It was clear that with runners on base during Saturday's game, Latos began to work at a slower pace. Another sign, Latos says, that he wasn't himself.

"That's not me," Latos said. "I'm not trying to make any excuses. I needed to keep my tempo instead of slowing down. I have to be on the attack."

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