Cueto takes ball for Reds in finale with Astros
(Sports Network) - Right-hander Johnny Cueto pitches after a loss for just the seventh time this season today when the Cincinnati Reds host the Houston Astros to complete a three-game weekend series at Great American Ball Park.
Cueto, among the perceived front-runners in the chase for the National League's Cy Young Award, was beaten, 4-2, by the Philadelphia Phillies - just his second loss in 10 starts since the All-Star break.
He's 4-2 coming off a loss in the first six instances this season, including a 3-0 win over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on Aug. 12 in which he pitched eight scoreless, three-hit innings. He was coming off a 3-1 loss at Milwaukee five days earlier.
Cueto has faced the Astros once this season and authored a similar performance, scattering five hits over seven scoreless innings in a 6-0 victory that raised his career mark against Houston to 2-5 in 11 starts.
The Reds gained a game on both second-place St. Louis and third-place Pittsburgh on Saturday and hold a 9 1/2-game lead in the NL Central Division.
Houston, which is last in the Central, opposes Cueto with journeyman righty Edgar Gonzalez, who makes his second start of the season and his 43rd in 109 major-league outings.
The 29-year-old Mexican, initially signed by Arizona in 2000, has been with three organizations in 2012. He was released by Oakland on March 30, signed by Colorado in April and released in June, then signed by the Astros in August.
He's also spent time with the Diamondbacks, Dodgers and Rays, and had pitched in the majors with Arizona, Oakland and Colorado before a Sept. 3 debut with Houston ended in a 5-1 win at Pittsburgh in which he allowed a run on five hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Gonzalez has made three career appearances against the Reds while allowing eight runs in 12 hits in 16 1/3 innings.
On Saturday, Bronson Arroyo went seven innings, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips both homered and the Reds downed the Astros, 5-1.
Arroyo (12-7) was charged with one run on seven hits. He walked two, struck out five and picked up his fifth win in six starts.
Bruce and Phillips both hit solo shots, while Ryan Hanigan added an RBI single during a three-run sixth inning.
The Reds had dropped the opener on Friday when Aroldis Chapman suffered his first blown save since June 24.
"It was important for us to win, especially the way the scoreboard was looking up there with Pittsburgh losing and St. Louis losing," Reds manager Dusty Baker said.
Bud Norris (5-12) continued to struggle for the last-place Astros. The righty gave up five runs on six hits over 5 1/3 innings and fell to 0-11 in his last 16 starts.
Justin Maxwell had a first-inning, RBI single in the loss.
"Bronson was great other than that first inning," Baker said.
The Reds won nine of the first 12 games between the teams this season, including two of three when they met in Houston from Aug. 31-Sept. 2.
Cincinnati won nine of 15 games against the Astros in 2011.