Reds, Pirates resume set at PNC Park
(SportsNetwork.com) - Having gotten little run support over his first three starts, Johnny Cueto took matters into his own hands last time out.
Cueto will look to build off last week's shutout of Pittsburgh on Tuesday night when the Cincinnati Reds continue a four-game set with the hosting Pirates.
The right-handed Cueto sat 0-2 through his first three starts of the campaign despite posting a 2.14 earned run average as the Reds had been held to just four runs in that span.
Cueto then squared off against the Pirates on Wednesday and continued his career-long success against them by hurling a three-hit shutout. He fanned 12 without a walk, limiting Pittsburgh to a pair of infield hits and a double.
"It was like, 'welcome back Johnny Cueto,'" said Reds manager Bryan Price. "He's been great the first three starts. He was dominating today. He had a real good change-up today, didn't have to over-show his curve and did a terrific job."
The 28-year-old improved to 14-4 with a 2.22 ERA in 22 career meetings with the Pirates, shutting them out for the second time.
Pittsburgh's Edinson Volquez did not face the Reds in last week's series, but Cincinnati knows how good he can be when in top form. That was the case in Volquez's last outing as he picked up his first win of the season with an 11-2 decision over Milwaukee.
Volquez yielded two runs on eight hits over seven innings, earning his first decision in four starts this year. He had pitched to a 1.29 ERA over his first three outings, charged with just two earned runs.
However, the 30-year-old righty cracked the win column thanks to an efficient outing on Thursday.
"I think the most impressive (number) tonight is he retired 20 hitters on three pitches or less," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said of Volquez. "Each one of the starts that we've seen him, the pitch count has been in a very efficient place."
Volquez pitched with the Reds from 2008-11, winning a career-high 17 games in that first season with the club, and is 1-0 lifetime versus his former team with a 3.93 ERA in three starts.
Pittsburgh snapped a three-game slide by winning Monday's opener 6-5, rallying back after giving up a two-run advantage.
The Pirates led 4-2 after Ike Davis' fourth-inning grand slam, but the Reds fought back to take the lead thanks to Billy Hamilton's sac fly in the seventh frame prior to a pair of run-scoring hits by Jay Bruce and Devin Mesoraco the following inning.
Then it was Pittsburgh's turn, with Andrew McCutchen leading off the bottom of the eighth inning with a game-tying homer and Neil Walker later plating Russell Martin with a two-out single in the bottom of the ninth past the outstretched glove of Cincinnati second baseman Brandon Phillips.
"Anytime you can not hit a barrel and find some grass and score a run, especially to win a game, it feels good, needless to say," said Walker. "It was pretty good retribution for some balls that were hit hard and were caught."
One that was not caught was Davis' third career grand slam. Acquired from the New York Mets on Friday, it was Davis' second homer of the season and the first also was a grand slam versus the Reds back on April 5.
Phillips, Mesoraco and Todd Frazier each had three hits and an RBI for Cincinnati, which came in having won five of seven. That included taking two of three from Pittsburgh at home last week.
04/22 10:35:49 ET