Reds win NL Central 0
Cincinnati Reds players celebrate a National League Central Division Championship during the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Great American Ball Park on September 22, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Reds defeated the Dodgers 6-0. (John Grieshop/Getty Images/AFP)
Mat Latos went eight innings, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips both homered, and the Cincinnati Reds clinched their second division title in three years on Saturday with a 6-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers at a celebratory Great American Ball Park.
Latos (13-4) scattered six hits, struck out seven without issuing a walk and didn't allow a runner to reach scoring position to improve to 8-2 in his last 17 starts.
Todd Frazier added a fifth-inning RBI and Zack Cozart hit a two-run, bases- loaded single in the eighth, as the Reds stormed their way to the NL Central title. They are the first team in the majors this season to lock up their division.
"It's not a shock at all because we've been taking care of business here for a while," Bruce said. "We kind of knew it was coming. We've worked really hard this year like we did then (2010). We deserve this and we deserve a lot more. We're going to go get it."
Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker was not present to celebrate the victory, as he remained in a Chicago hospital and missed his fourth straight game with an irregular heartbeat.
"If Dusty would have been here it would have been a whole lot better. We miss our manager. He's like a father figure to me," Phillips said during the postgame celebration. "When he gets here, I'm going to save one bottle for him."
Stephen Fife (0-2) gave up two runs on five hits over five innings to take the loss in his fifth major league start. The 25-year-old is still searching for his first big league win.
"The legs weren't underneath me all that well," Fife said. "We just didn't execute all that well today."
With the setback, the Dodgers fell three games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the NL's final wild card spot. The Cardinals defeated the Cubs in extra innings earlier Saturday.
On Friday the Cubs downed the Cardinals in extras, reducing Cincinnati's magic number to one in the process. The Reds couldn't clinch, however, as Matt Kemp's two-out, two-run single in the 10th inning sent the Dodgers to a 3-1 win and pushed the celebration back a day.
Bruce opened the scoring on Saturday with a leadoff homer in the fourth and Frazier delivered a a two-out single an inning later to plate Phillips, who ripped a solo shot with two down in the seventh.
With momentum in hand and the crowd in a frenzy, the Reds poured it on in the eighth.
Frazier led off with a double and Bruce followed with a walk before the former scored courtesy of pitcher Jamey Wright's throwing error on a sacrifice bunt by Chris Heisey.
Wright then intentionally walked Dioner Navarro to get to Cozart, who lined a base hit to left field to push across a pair.
In the ninth, Aroldis Chapman grounded out Kemp and walked Adrian Gonzalez before inducing Hanley Ramirez into a game-ending double play.
The rubber match of this series will take place Sunday.
Cincinnati bench coach Chris Speier is now 7-1 as Cincinnati's interim manager during a pair of Baker suspensions (2008, 2010) and his current illness ... Latos improved to 2-6 in nine career games against the Dodgers ... Fife made his major league debut on July 17 of this season.