PITTSBURGH, Pa. — The Cincinnati Reds Johnny Cueto proved his sub two ERA to be legit on Friday night at PNC Park. Over the last two seasons, Cueto’s 2.15 ERA has lead the Major Leagues (with a minimum of of 150 innings pitched) as the right-hander tossed his fifth complete game in the Pirates’ 6-1 loss in Pittsburgh.
The Pirates were only able to score one run off Cueto, who entered game action with just a 1.38 ERA this season. The Reds right-hander pitched all nine frames while holding the Bucs to just one run and scattering seven hits.
“We’ve seen him before. We saw him last year at the end of the season since he’s implemented this new little tuck. We haven’t had much of any [success] against him in a while,” Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle said. “Command of all his pitches. The fastball has good finish. That slider’s tight and sharp with depth. The changeup anytime to left-handers. He’s very confident out there. We’re not the first team that he kind of buzzed in. He came in with a [1.38] ERA. The numbers are legit. We’ll have to find an answer to him the next time we see him.”
Despite pitching up against a tough righty, Pirates starter Kevin Correia knew he wouldn’t have much margin for error, but that wasn’t his focus on the mound.
“He’s had some success against us,” Correia said. “He was one of the best pitchers in the National League last year. You know you don’t have the luxury to give up a bunch of runs, but when it comes down to it, I’m pitching against their lineup. I’m not really worried about the other guys who’s against me. I’m trying to give up less runs no matter who it is. He was good tonight.”
The lone run off Cueto came in the bottom of the fourth. Nate McLouth led off the inning with an infield single to third base and Neil Walker followed by hitting a single into right field to put runners on the corners. Pedro Alvarez hit a sac fly to left field to cut the Reds’ lead at the time to 2-1. The Pirates attempted to tie the game up at 2 after Clint Barmes hit a double down the left field line but Garrett Jones was thrown out at home.
Right-hander Kevin Correia allowed five runs on nine hits over 7.0 innings in his fifth start of the season. He walked one and struck out three while throwing 107 pitches, 71 for strikes. For the first time this season, Correia allowed more than two earned runs in a start.
“He went out there and gave up what we needed,” Hurdle said. “We were short in the bullpen. He gave up seven innings. Yeah, we’d like to have a couple pitches back…They finished with three homers in the seventh and eighth innings. Too much distance for us to cover tonight.”
After pitching an eight pitch first inning with a leadoff strikeout, Correia gave up the first of his five runs in the second inning. Jay Bruce hit a double that rolled to the wall in right field. After advancing to third on a ground out, Bruce scored on a squeeze play by Chris Heisey. On an 0-2 pitch with two outs, Heisey laid down a perfect bunt single that pitcher Kevin Correia couldn’t field in time for the out and enabled the Reds to take a 1-0 lead.
“I don’t think it was a safety squeeze, I think he was bunting for a base hit and got the run in,” Hurdle said. “Excellent baseball play. No defense for it. He put it in the perfect spot. Plus the guy can run…It’s a gutsy play.”
With two outs, nonetheless, Hurdle said he was surprised.
“Absolutely,” Hurdle said. “This guy, he swings, he grips it and rips it. It’s just a good baseball play.”
The Reds plated a second run off Correia with two outs in the fourth. Chris Heisey hit a triple off the wall in left field. The play was reviewed by umpire’s after Manager Dusty Baker challenged the play. It missed just inches of being a solo-home run. Cincinnati got a run anyway, as Ryan Hanigan followed by ripping a RBI double just fair down the left field line.
Correia allowed a third run his next inning of work. Zack Cozart picked up his first hit to start the fifth inning, a single to left. The rookie shortstop scored on a two-out RBI single into center by Brandon Phillips.
Back-to-back home runs came off Correia in the seventh and final inning. Cozart’s came on a 3-1 fastball to left, while Drew Stubbs took the first pitch for a long ball into the deepest part of the ballpark in right center field.
“It was a 3-1 pitch that got out,” Correia said. “With the guys that they have behind them, hitting three, four, five, I had to throw a strike. He got it. It wasn’t a great pitch location-wise at all. The next pitch, was just a bad pitch. He hit it out.”
“That one fastball was just flat,” Hurdle said. “Stayed right there over the plate. The changeup he just stuck it. He put two pitches up there. He didn’t miss them.”
Right-hander Chris Resop came on for relief in the eighth inning and gave up a leadoff long ball to Jay Bruce on an 0-1 pitch to right center. It marked the third home run the Reds hit off the Bucs in the 6-1 loss.
- Relief –Chris Resop: 2.0IP, 3H, R, 3BB, K, HR
- With the 6-1 loss, the Pirates fall to 11-15 on the season, while the Reds improve to 13-12.
- Pedro Alvarez led off the second inning with a single into right field to extend his hitting streak to seven games.
- Nate McLouth got the start in center field for Andrew McCutchen, who is still recovering from the flu. McLouth went 2-for-4 scoring the club’s lone run.