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(Wednesday, April 16th)
Final Score: Cincinnati 4, Pittsburgh 0
Cincinnati, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - Johnny Cueto continued his great start with a three-hit shutout and finally received some run support to pick up his first win of the season, as the Cincinnati Reds earned a 4-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday afternoon at Great American Ball Park.
Cueto had surrendered just five runs and 13 hits over 21 innings in his first three outings this season, but the Reds had scored just one run while he was on the mound. They quickly got one in the first without a hit and Joey Votto clubbed a two-run homer in the seventh to provide some cushion, as the Reds took two of three from their NL Central rivals in a period of less than 24 hours.
Monday's series opener was suspended by rain in the seventh inning and the Pirates completed an 8-7 win late Tuesday afternoon before Cincinnati earned a 7-5 triumph in Tuesday's regularly scheduled game.
The Reds won a series for the first time this season.
Cueto (1-2) was brilliant on Wednesday, limiting the Pirates to a pair of infield singles and a double. He did not issue a walk while setting a career best with 12 strikeouts, throwing 71 of his 107 pitches for strikes.
"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."
Francisco Liriano (0-3) was the hard-luck loser and remained winless in four starts this season. He yielded three runs on six hits and three walks with seven strikeouts in seven innings.
"It was too dry," Liriano said. "The ball was slipping in my hands. I couldn't get a feel."
The Reds picked up the first run of the game in the first inning without putting the ball in play. Billy Hamilton led off with a walk and stole second. He then took third on a wild pitch by Liriano and raced home on another pitch to the backstop.
Votto struck out to end the fifth with runners on the corners, but he came through in the seventh with a two-out blast over the wall in right-center after Cueto had singled two batters earlier.
Cincinnati tacked on a run in the eighth against Stolmy Pimentel when Chris Heisey was hit by a pitch, raced to third on a single by Ryan Ludwick and scored on Brayan Pena's double to right.
The Pirates failed to mount a threat against Cueto.
Tony Sanchez led off the third with an infield single, but Pittsburgh never advanced the runner. Andrew McCutchen doubled with one out in the fourth, but Cueto caught Pedro Alvarez and Gaby Sanchez looking at third strikes. Jordy Mercer then reached on another infield hit with two outs in the fifth -- a call overturned by replay -- and Cueto easily retired Liriano to end the inning.
Cueto set down the next 12 batters to finish his seventh career complete game and third shutout. Three of his complete games have come against Pittsburgh.
Cueto's previous best strikeout total was 11, set Aug. 28, 2011 against Washington ... Liriano and Cueto were the starters in last year's one-game NL Wild Card playoff, won by the Pirates in Pittsburgh ... Cueto improved to 14-4 in 22 lifetime starts against the Pirates, while Liriano is 0-4 in the regular season against Cincinnati ... Pirates outfielder Jose Tabata left the contest in the bottom of the fifth inning after crashing into the left field wall while making a running catch of a line-drive hit by Pena ... Pittsburgh returns home Thursday to start a four-game series against Milwaukee ... Cincinnati has Thursday off before starting a 10-game road trip on Friday with the first of three in Chicago against the Cubs.
04/16 20:05:08 ET