Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto (47) waits for a new ball after giving up a home run to Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Russell Martin (background left) in the second inning of the National League wild card playoff baseball game at PNC Park.
Johnny Cueto’s stellar start to the season includes a performance that the Pittsburgh Pirates surely don’t forget.
Cueto has had plenty of time to stew over his last outing at PNC Park, but he’s buried that in the back of his mind.
The right-hander looks to keep rolling Tuesday night as he opposes former Cincinnati Reds starter Edinson Volquez.
Cueto (1-2, 1.50 ERA) provided the Reds with another outstanding outing Wednesday, three-hitting the Pirates while striking out 12 in a 4-0 win. That support was more than he received in his first three outings combined.
The right-hander improved to 8-2 with a 1.29 ERA in his last 13 regular-season starts against Pittsburgh, though the Pirates touched him up for four runs and eight hits in just 3 1-3 innings of their 6-2 win in last season’s NL wild-card game – the last time Cueto faced them at PNC.
"I never think too much about those things," Cueto said. "That was 2013."
Manager Bryan Price was happy to see his starter put that outing behind him.
"Welcome back, Johnny Cueto," Price said. "He’s been great his first three starts, and he was dominant (Wednesday)."
Volquez (1-0, 1.71) has been pretty good in his own right. After making his first appearance out of the bullpen April 3, he’s had three straight solid starts for a rotation that has a disappointing 4.32 ERA. He gave up two runs in seven innings of Thursday’s 11-2 win over Milwaukee.
"It’s a great feeling to get that first ‘W’ for the Pittsburgh Pirates," Volquez said. "That’s why they brought me here, to win games. I feel like I did my job this time."
The right-hander won a career-high 17 games for Cincinnati in 2008, but elbow surgery the following season took its toll until he was eventually traded to San Diego in a deal for Mat Latos prior to the 2012 campaign.
Volquez, who signed a one-year, $5 million deal with Pittsburgh in the offseason, has made three starts against his former team, going 1-0 with a 3.93 ERA. Jay Bruce has gone 4 for 7 with a homer, a double and two walks against him.
Bruce had an RBI double in a two-run eighth that gave the Reds (8-11) the lead Monday, but Andrew McCutchen tied the score with a solo homer in the bottom of the inning before Neil Walker’s single scored Russell Martin in the ninth to give the Pirates a 6-5 win.
McCutchen finished 3 for 3 with two walks and two runs scored for Pittsburgh (9-11), which had lost three straight and eight of 10. Walker finished 3 for 4 and Ike Davis hit a grand slam in the fourth.
Davis is 5 for 13 in three games since being acquired from the New York Mets on Friday for a minor leaguer and a player to be named. He joined Ray Boone in 1953 and Mike Piazza in 1998 as the only players to hit a grand slam for different teams against the same opponent in one season.
"We knew that’s what he was capable of doing when we traded for him," Walker said. "As a left-handed hitter in this ballpark, I can envision him hitting more balls over that Clemente Wall in right field. This is just the start."
Brandon Phillips, Todd Frazier and Devin Mesoraco finished with three hits and an RBI apiece for the Reds, who have dropped six of the last eight meetings – including the wild-card game.