CINCINNATI (AP) — Johnny Cueto outlasted Stephen Strasburg in a highly anticipated matchup of young aces and Jay Bruce drove in three runs as the Cincinnati Reds wrapped up an impressive opening week homestand with a 6-3 win over the Washington Nationals on Sunday.
Cueto needed 108 pitches to get through six innings, allowing seven hits and three runs. He walked three and struck out six. Aroldis Chapman allowed one hit and had two strikeouts in the ninth for his second save.
Strasburg (1-1) allowed nine hits and six runs with four walks and five strikeouts in 5 1-3 innings. He threw 114 pitches, 73 for strikes.
Bruce, Shin-Soo Choo, Xavier Paul and Brandon Phillips each had two hits to back Cueto (1-0) and help the Reds win the rubber match of their three-game series with Washington. They finished 4-2 at home against the Nationals and Los Angeles Angels, two teams expected to contend this season for post-season berths.
Cincinnati left-hander Sean Marshall pitched the seventh in his first appearance of the season after getting over what he described as shoulder fatigue. Jonathan Broxton worked the eighth.
The Reds knocked Strasburg out with a three-run sixth. Rookie Derrick Robinson, called up on Wednesday to replace the injured Ryan Ludwick, led off with his first major league hit, a sharp one-hopper just out of the reach of diving third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.
Robinson went to third on Choo’s single to center and slid across the plate with the go-ahead run just ahead of second baseman Danny Espinosa’s throw on Paul’s fielder’s choice.
Both runners moved up on Joey Votto’s chopper to Strasburg and Phillips singled to left through the drawn-in infield to drive in Paul and end Strasburg’s day. Ryan Mattheus relieved Strasburg, and Bruce greeted him with a run-scoring infield single to shortstop Ian Desmond.
The duel between the two right-handers nearly fizzled early.
Strasburg allowed as many hits in the first inning Sunday as he did while throwing seven shutout innings against Miami during a 2-0 win in Washington’s opener on April 1. Four straight runners reached base, including Paul and Phillips with infield singles and Bruce with a bases-loaded, two-run double. Phillips scored the Reds’ third run of the inning on Todd Frazier’s groundout.
The Nationals immediately tied the score in the second on Desmond’s double to left-center, Danny Espinosa’s walk and Kurt Suzuki’s 357-foot home run into the left field seats.
NOTES: The Reds begin their first road trip of the season Monday with three games in St. Louis, where they’ve won just three and split two of their last 27 series, starting in 2003. … Washington returns home after a brief three-game road trip to open a six-game homestand, starting Monday with the first of three interleague games against the White Sox. … Zimmerman’s third-inning error was the 12th committed by a Reds opponents in the first six games of the season. The Reds have been charged with just two.