On Saturday afternoon, Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price praised right-hander Johnny Cueto during his pregame chat with reporters.
“Johnny Cueto has been an outstanding pitcher for as long as I can remember … I’ve been here since 2010,” said Price, who likened Cueto’s command of the strike zone to Hall of Famer Greg Maddux. “He’s taken his game to an even higher level.”
A few hours later, Cueto justified his manager’s comments by giving up two runs and three hits and striking out 10 in eight innings while adding an RBI single to lift Cincinnati to a 6-2 victory over the first-place Milwaukee Brewers at Great American Ball Park.
The only two hits off Cueto through seven innings were solo home runs by third baseman Aramis Ramirez and first baseman Mark Reynolds.
Cueto (2-2), who has won three of his past four starts against Milwaukee, issued just one walk and lowered his ERA to 1.31.
Cincinnati (14-16) collected nine singles while snapping a 12-inning scoreless streak that included a 2-0 loss to Milwaukee the night before.
Second baseman Brandon Phillips and left fielder Ryan Ludwick, who both had a day off on Friday, combined for five hits and a RBI.
Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo allowed four runs and nine hits, all singles, with one walk and a season-low one strikeout. The nine hits and four earned runs were both season highs for Gallardo.
Instead, the Reds’ stagnant offense picked Saturday night to wake up against Gallardo.
Third baseman Todd Frazier’s RBI double made the score 5-2 in the seventh. Frazier later scored Cincinnati’s sixth run on back-to-back wild pitches by right-hander Tyler Thornburg.
Cueto escaped a jam in the eighth, but it took a replay review to confirm that Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez was out at first to end the inning with runners on first and second.
Ramirez snapped a 0-for-28 skid with a solo home run off Cueto in the second to put Milwaukee ahead 1-0. It was Ramirez’s fourth home run and the fifth allowed by Cueto this year.
In the fourth, Cincinnati loaded the bases with one out before Ludwick’s RBI single tied the score. Pena followed with a two-run single to put the Reds ahead 3-1.
After Ramirez’s 380-foot blast, Cueto retired the next nine batters before Reynolds made the score 3-2 leading off the fifth with his seventh home run of the season. But that is all the offense Milwaukee could muster against Cueto.