CINCINNATI – Johnny Cueto knows how to prepare for day games, and his routine is working out quite well for him.
Cueto pitched eight crisp innings, Todd Frazier hit a go-ahead homer for the second straight game and the Cincinnati Reds beat the Chicago Cubs 5-3 on Saturday in the opener of a day-night doubleheader. The Cubs defeated the Reds 9-7 in the second game.
Don’t get me wrong, Cueto said through an interpreter after improving to 11-0 with a 1.62 ERA in 13 day games this season. I like throwing at night, but I like pitching in the day, too. It’s not really different. It’s all in how I get prepared the night before day games.
Xavier Paul and Miguel Cairo added their first home runs of the season as the Reds roughed up another Chicago starting pitcher for three home runs. They hit three off Travis Wood in a 7-3 win Friday night and three more off Jeff Samardzija.
Cueto (16-6) settled down after allowing Alfonso Soriano’s two-run homer in the first. The right-hander gave up three hits and struck out eight, drawing a standing ovation when he walked off the mound for the last time. He also hit David DeJesus, the first batter of the game.
Cueto, who didn’t allow a runner past first base after the first inning and retired 19 of the last 20 batters he faced, is the first Cincinnati pitcher since Danny Jackson in 1988 to win 16 of his first 25 starts. He has won seven of his last eight appearances to move into a tie with Tampa Bay’s David Price for the major league lead in wins.
He was dealing, manager Dusty Baker said. He has to be a serious candidate for the Cy Young Award. We don’t talk about it, but that has to be in the back of his mind.
I’ve got to keep working, Cueto said. There’s a lot of baseball to go before I can think about that.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum watched Cueto dominate Chicago for the second time in six days. He also pitched eight innings in the Reds’ 3-0 win at Wrigley Field last Sunday.
He did everything, Sveum said. His off-speed stuff was good. He worked inside.
Aroldis Chapman gave up two hits, a walk and a run – his first in 24 appearances – but held on for his 29th save.
Frazier also drove in Jay Bruce with a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning. He went 2 for 3 and is batting .600 (15 for 25) with three homers and 11 RBI in 10 games against the Cubs this season.
I don’t know what it is, said Frazier, a leading contender for NL Rookie of the Year. It’s crazy. I’m comfortable against them and confident, like always. When I’m at the plate, I feel like I can some damage.
In the second game, Chicago’s Brett Jackson hit his first career home run to help Brooks Raley earn his first major league win.
Starlin Castro had three hits and two RBI as the Cubs rebounded after losing the first two in the four-game weekend series. David DeJesus added his fifth home run of the season in the ninth.