The numbers were stacked against the Cincinnati Reds — not a good matchup for the first game of a four-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Dodgers were pitching Zack Grienke, who was 4-0 in six career starts against the Reds for his career and 6-0 in Dodger Stadium this year.
On the other side was Mat Latos, 0-5 for his career in Dodger Stadium.
Mix in the fact that the Dodgers had won 23 of their last 28 and were coming off a 10-0 road trip.
And the Dodgers had Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Rob Reiner and Larry King sitting in the stands root, root, rooting for the home team.
No chance for the Reds, right.
Well, nobody thought Frederick the Great could conquer Gaul in the Seven Years War, either.
And the Reds conquered the Dodgers with Mat the Great on this night, a 5-2 victory, their fourth win in five games so far on an 11-game west coast trip.
But of course, the St. Louis Cardinals won – again — and the Reds remain five games out of first place, although the Pittsburgh Pirates lost and the Reds crept to within 2 ½ games of second place.
For 7 2/3 innings Latos was a strike-throwing automaton. He threw first-pitch strikes to 21 hitters and had 0-2 counts on 10.
But when he gave up a run in the seventh and a single to Hanley Ramirez on an 0-2 count with two outs in the eighth, manager Dusty Baker brought in left-hander Manny Parra to face left-hander Andre Ethier and he lined out to shortstop Cesar Izturis.
Latos gave up two runs (one earned), eight hits, walked one and struck out four to join Mike Leake as a 10-game winner.
The Reds didn’t have much trouble with Greinke, scoring a run in each of the first two innings.
Former Dodger Xavier Paul, the second batter of the night, put the Reds on the board by driving a 2-and-0 94 mph Greinke fastball into the right field seats.
The Reds made it 2-0 in the second with the aid of another former Dodger, shortstop Cesar Izturis. Todd Frazier extended his hitting streak to eight games with a double to left. Izturis, playing in place of injured Zack Cozart, lobbed a two-out single to left center to make it 2-0.
The Dodgers scored a run off Latos in the fourth when rookie sensation Yasiel Puig singled to center, one of his three hits off Latos. When Puig took a big turn at first after the hit, center fielder Shin-Soo Choo threw behind him, trying to pick him off first. But the throw bounced into the stands behind first base and Puig was awarded third base. He scored on a grounder to second by Adrian Gonzalez.
The Reds pushed their advantage to 4-1 in the sixth on a two-run home run by Jay Bruce, whose success against Greinke has been miniscule. Before the home run Bruce was 2 for 21 against Greinke. But Bruce spliced together a quality at bat, fouling off four 2-2 pitches before reaching the right field seats.
After the Dodgers scored one in the eighth off Latos, the Dodgers brought in recently acquired Carlos Marmol to pitch the ninth and the Reds added on a run, a run-scoring single by Choo after Marmol contributed one of the many walks he always throws into the mix.
All that was left was for Aroldis Chapman to do his thing in the ninth. But it wasn’t an easy thing.
Chapman started it by striking out A.J. Ellis with a 102 mph fastball, then gave up a single to pinch-hitter Mark Ellis. He went to 3-2 on former Red Jerry Hairston Jr. and struck him out on what would have been ball four. And pinch-hitter Juan Uribe also worked the count to 3-2, but he walked.
That put two on and Carl Crawford was the tying run. He lined out to left field as the Reds let out a collective gasp of air.