Majors' ERA leader Cueto throws shutout in Reds win, makes history
MAY 15, 2014 3:30p ET
CINCINNATI — Two shutouts. Three complete games. Best ERA in the majors. A start to the season unlike any other in more than 100 years.
Johnny Cueto is quickly compiling some really loud numbers.
Cueto pitched a three-hitter for his second shutout of the season, and Brandon Phillips hit a three-run homer and a double, leading the Cincinnati Reds over the San Diego Padres 5-0 Thursday in the first game of a day-night doubleheader.
The teams were making up their game rained out on Wednesday night.
Cueto (4-2) lowered the majors' best ERA to 1.25 with his third complete game in nine starts.
Is he the best starter in the majors right now?
''I would say yes because the numbers talk and my numbers are going to talk for me,'' Cueto said, with assistant trainer Tomas Vera interpreting.
Here are some numbers to consider: Cueto is the first major league pitcher to go at least seven innings and allow two or fewer runs in each of his first nine starts since the Philadelphia Athletics' Harry Krause in 1909, according to information provided the Reds by the Elias Sports Bureau.
Also, he is the first Reds pitcher to go at least seven innings in each of his first nine starts since Bucky Walters in 1944.
''He needs to start getting some national attention,'' shortstop Zack Cozart said. ''I was watching TV the other night, and they were talking about (Zack) Greinke and (Clayton) Kershaw and I'm like, `What about Johnny C?'''
The most impressive part to the Reds is how he won't ease up even with a big lead like the one on Thursday.
''He's one of those guys that it doesn't matter (what's on) the scoreboard, he just goes out there and continues to attack, continues to follow his game plan,'' catcher Brayan Pena said. ''That's why he is who he is. That's why he's been pitching the way he is.''
San Diego came into the game last in the NL in batting average (.222) and runs (118). The Padres were blanked for the seventh time, the most in the majors. Cueto fanned eight, walked two and threw 116 pitches.
Cueto felt a little tight and sluggish while warming up in the bullpen on a cool afternoon, but still managed to pitch a shutout.
''He was terrific,'' manager Bryan Price said. ''He's had games where he's been sharper, but he kept making pitches. I don't know what else I can say about him.''
Phillips homered off Ian Kennedy (2-5) and Cozart singled home a pair of runs, part of a three-hit game for the shortstop.
Kennedy had been tough on the road and tough on the Reds throughout his career. The right-hander was 2-0 in his first three road games this season and had been 3-0 in four career starts against Cincinnati, holding the Reds to one earned run or less three times.
He repeatedly pitched out of trouble early on, forcing the Reds to strand four in scoring position during the first three innings.
The Reds got runners on first and third with two outs in the fifth, and Phillips connected for his third homer. In his last nine games, Phillips is 14 for 35 with seven doubles, two homers and five multihit games.
Cozart snapped an 0-for-15 streak with runners in scoring position when he singled home a pair of runs in the sixth. Kennedy gave up a season-high five runs and 11 hits in six innings.
"The guys came out determined in the second game to put some at-bats together," Padres manager Bud Black said.
The Padres won their first series on the road this season, taking two of three. They have won five of their last six games, their best stretch of the season.
Ross (5-3) walked five batters — including three in the first inning — and struck out eight including Joey Votto three times. Once Ross settled in after the first inning, the Reds got only one more runner to second base.
"In the first inning, the sinker was pretty good," Rivera said. "It was nasty. It was a little down in the strike zone. We told Tyson to keep it closer to the strike zone."
Rivera hit a two-run homer off left-hander Jeff Francis (0-1), who was called up to make his Reds debut. Francis gave up three runs in five innings.
Everth Cabrera and Yonder Alonso hit solo shots off the bullpen, their first homers of the season. Alonso, who went to San Diego as part of the trade for starter Mat Latos in 2011, also had an RBI single in his former ballpark.
"I played here a lot of years," Alonso said. "Obviously it's a special place. I know a lot of those guys. It's fun, like playing back in the old days. I was reminiscing with a couple of those guys."
The Padres acquired OF Jake Goebbert in a deal that sent utility player Kyle Blanks to Oakland. The Padres also will get another player to be determined or cash in the deal. Goebbert batted .257 with six homers and 25 RBI for Triple-A Sacramento this season. He was assigned to Triple-A El Paso. Blanks played in five games with the Padres this season, going 2 for 10. ... Francis, who was promoted from Triple-A Louisville to start the second game, signed a minor-league deal in January after the Rockies let him go. ... The Reds optioned right-handed reliever Nick Christiani to Louisville before the first game, then added him as the 26th man for the second game. The Padres added reliever Kevin Quackenbush as their extra player for the second game. ... The Reds moved right-handed starter Latos to the 60-day DL. Latos is expected back from knee and forearm problems in early June.