CINCINNATI -- Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton doesn't exactly have a long resume of successful relay throws to home plate.
"I've only been playing there a couple of days," joked Hamilton, who moved from shortstop to center field in the Minors before the 2013 season.
Now, Hamilton is 2-for-2 in starting successful relays. Both happened on Saturday and were critical plays that helped give the Reds a 6-5 victory over the Phillies. In the sixth and seventh innings, Hamilton retrieved doubles and threw to second baseman Brandon Phillips, who threw to catcher Devin Mesoraco for the third out at the plate.
"It's crazy. I never did anything like that before," Hamilton said on Sunday. "That's one big thing they preached to me when I became an outfielder and learned the position -- hit your cut-off man. If there's going to be a play at home plate, you have to be the start of everything. I know Brandon made the throw to home. But if you don't make that first throw, you don't have a chance at home."
On both occasions, Hamilton made quick throws to Phillips. The first one, on Domonic Brown's double, was from the warning track in right-center field.
"Get rid of it quick, make a good throw, give him something he can handle," Hamilton said. "My main thing was getting it to him. I knew if I could get it to him, Brandon has a great arm. I'm pretty sure he can make that throw 20 times out of 20. I know my job is to get it to him as fast as I can.
"You should've seen my reaction. I was excited. I knew once I got a good throw to him, there was a great chance to get them out at home."
Hamilton missed a game last Sunday with a sore elbow from making a throw from the warning track to third base at Arizona. No such problems this time.
"That long throw was another good test of my elbow. It feels really good," Hamilton said. "It was two big plays. I'm still excited about it today. We got a 'W.'"
Votto looks solid in first rehab game
CINCINNATI -- In the first game of his rehab assignment for Triple-A Louisville on Sunday, Reds first baseman Joey Votto went 1-for-3 with a single before being lifted for a pinch-runner in the seventh.
That one hit was important in one sense. Votto's leadoff single up the middle in the seventh broke up Pawtucket pitcher Chris Hernandez's no-hitter.
Votto has been out of the Reds' lineup since May 16 because of a strained left quadriceps muscle and went on the disabled list May 21. The Reds planned to re-evaluate Votto's status after Sunday's game to determined if he'll need more rehab games before being activated.
Reds hopeful Latos' next rehab start is his last
CINCINNATI -- Reds pitcher Mat Latos' fourth, and likely final, rehab assignment start will be for Triple-A Louisville at Pawtucket on Monday.
Latos is expected to throw 90-100 pitches in the game.
"He'll go out there in search of that longer outing, that 90-plus pitch outing, and we hope to have him ready and in our rotation after that," Reds manager Bryan Price said on Sunday.
Latos has a 2.63 ERA in three rehab starts in 13 1/3 innings for Louisville. His previous outing at Lehigh Valley was expected to be his last before activation from the disabled list, but he exited in the sixth with a cramp in his calf.
The Reds decided that one more start was needed, which left Latos miffed.
"It's pretty bogus I've got to go on another rehab assignment, but it is what it is," Latos said on Friday. "I'll go down there and throw 100 fastballs and call it a day and come back up here and we'll assess what's going on."
Price is hopeful that Latos will use the start as a chance to prepare himself for joining and helping the rotation the rest of the season.
"We're looking to string together victories and get ourselves back to the top of the division, and he can play a large part in that effort," Price said. "So it benefits everybody that he goes out there and gets the work done, competes well and uses it as a stepping stone into his first start for us and we'll see what the results are."
Latos' impatience is understandable because it's already been a long and frustrating comeback road. He had elbow surgery to remove bone chips in October and he was almost ready when he needed left knee surgery at the start of Spring Training to repair torn minsicus cartilage. He had started a rehab assignment in April when he suffered a strained flexor mass tendon in his right forearm.
"Yeah, and I'm aware of some of his comments that he's ready to pitch, beyond all the other stuff. And I believe to a certain extent he probably is," Price said. "I would like to be able to expect him to throw as many innings or pitches as the other four guys or five guys we have currently in the rotation are expected to throw, simply, in large part, because we don't have a true long-relief pitcher. We don't have a Triple-A starter, we don't have a Jeff Francis.
"So if something happens to a starter early in the game, it can blow up our bullpen and so I'd like to know going into it that he's capable of throwing 100 to 100-plus pitches."
Price was asked whether one of the existing starters -- presumably Tony Cingrani or Alfredo Simon -- could fill that long-man role.
"Yeah, but that's when [Latos is] added. And that's if we make that decision to keep that pitcher here," Price said.
Jay Bruce, who hit his 100th career home run at Great American Ball Park on Saturday, should be soon followed to the milestone by Brandon Phillips. The Reds' second baseman entered the day with 97 homers at the home ballpark. Both players are second and third, respectively, on the all-time homer list at Great American Ball Park behind Adam Dunn, who hit 126.