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Mat Latos makes strong first impression with Dodgers

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES -- Mat Latos wasn't at his best on Sunday, but still made a strong first impression in his Dodgers debut in a 5-3 win over the Angels to complete a weekend sweep at Dodger Stadium.

Latos only struck out one in his six innings of work, but that one was Mike Trout in the first inning. Latos held Trout and Albert Pujols to one ground ball single in six combined at-bats, which helped Latos limit the Angels to one run in his six frames.

"You don't see any fear in him at all," said manager Don Mattingly. "He's attacking guys, whether it's Trout or Pujols."

"He did a great job keeping them off balance. He had a great outing," said catcher Yasmani Grandal. "The one run was on two soft ground balls."

It capped a whirlwind weekend for Latos, who was acquired by the Dodgers by the Marlins on Thursday in a three-team, 13-player deal. He arrived in Los Angeles on Saturday morning, getting only three hours sleep after a cross-country flight.

"I'm just glad I didn't get booed like I did in Miami in my first start," Latos said. "I was nervous when I woke up this morning. I was nervous and didn't eat much. I ate a banana and a Red Bull."

Latos was traded from the Reds to the Marlins last offseason, then in his first start of the year allowed seven runs in the first inning while recording only two outs. He was much better on Sunday, not allowing a hit until the third inning, and not allowing a run until the sixth.

He was pulled after six innings despite only 80 pitches, having allowed only one run on four hits and a walk.

"His last six or seven starts, 90 is about as far as he's been. It was his first time out, he got us to where we wanted to be. I felt like he did the job there," Mattingly said. "When you talk about taking him out, you haven't been through enough to know whether he's out of gas. There's a little bit of trial and error with the guys."

"I was pretty jet lagged and getting used to west coast time, so it was probably the right move," Latos said. "I would have loved to go out there in the seventh, but that's his call."

It fits a pattern of late for Latos, who has lasted six or seven innings in each of his last six starts, but hasn't thrown more than 90 pitches in any of those games. In his last eight starts he has a 2.79 ERA while averaging 6.46 innings and 90 pitches per start. He has been more like his old self.

"He's a guy we've been watching for a long time," Mattingly said. "We looked at him at one point as a No. 1-type guy. If we can get him back to being healthy and throwing the ball well, he's one of those guys who can pretty much beat anybody."

That followed a three-week stint on the disabled list for left knee inflammation.

"They had to drain it, then I was on a huge rehab program," Latos explained. "It's allowed me to clear my front side and drive the ball down. My velocity has gone up, though today it wasn't up.

"If it's something that's lingering, sore and hurt, you're not making pitches, you're trying to change your mechanics up. We were able to clear out the inflammation in the knee, strengthen the knee, strengthen the quad. It's just allowing me to pitch and really just be me."

Latos wasn't just solid on the mound on Sunday, but also was 1-for-2 at the plate. The right-hander is 6-for-20 (.300) on the season, though he jokingly downplayed his hitting prowess.

"I swing hard in case I hit it, and act like I know what I'm doing," he quipped.

OKC rehab

When the Dodgers hit the road, a pair of pitchers will be headed to Oklahoma City to continue their minor league rehab assignments in Triple-A.

Carlos Frias will make his next start for OKC, likely on Wednesday to keep him on regular rest. He made two minor league rehab starts with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga.

Chris Hatcher will also head to Oklahoma City, after pitching three games for Rancho Cucamonga. Hatcher's stay figures to be a little longer, as he is ineligible to be activated from the 60-day disabled list before Aug. 14.

Up next

The Dodgers are off on Monday, when they will fly to Philadelphia for a three-game series. Alex Wood will make his Dodgers debut in the series opener on Tuesday night, with Jerome Williams getting the ball for the Phillies.