CINCINNATI – Diamondbacks rookie Trevor Bauer did his unusual pregame warm-up, getting his arm loose by throwing the ball from one foul pole to the other. At that point, he had no idea that it would be one of those nights.
Three innings later, he wanted to forget it.
Bauer couldn't throw a strike when he needed and couldn't figure out why. He gave the shortest start of his young career as the Cincinnati Reds pulled away to a 4-0 victory on Tuesday night.
"I was bad," Bauer said. "Everybody has those days."
This was Cincinnati's day.
Right-hander Johnny Cueto showed no significant problem from his finger blister during six innings, and Ryan Ludwick hit a three-run homer off Bauer that gave the Reds their first victory without first baseman Joey Votto.
Votto had surgery earlier in the day to repair torn cartilage in his left knee, sidelining the former National League MVP for up to a month.
Cueto (11-5) threw 105 pitches, an indication that a blister he developed on his right index finger last week wasn't bothering him. He gave up four hits and walked four.
Aroldis Chapman came on with two aboard and two outs in the ninth and fanned Aaron Hill on four fastballs — the last one 101 mph — for his 14th save in 18 chances. Chapman has gotten 21 of his last 25 outs by strikeouts.
Bauer (1-2), the first of the 2011 amateur draft picks to reach the majors, had the roughest time in his four starts so far. The 21-year-old pitcher gave up four runs, walked five, threw two wild pitches and had an errant pickoff throw.
Bauer has lasted four or fewer innings in three of his starts. Asked to assess the young pitcher's situation after four starts, Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson declined.
"I'm not going to talk about that now," he said. "I need some time to think about it."
The Reds scored an unearned run in the first inning with Bauer's help. Drew Stubbs walked, Zack Cozart reached on shortstop Stephen Drew's error, and the runners pulled off a double steal. Stubbs scored when Bauer threw a wild pitch that bounced in front of the plate — one of several that didn't make it nearly far enough.
The bad moments were just beginning for the rookie.
"That young man who pitched for them had outstanding stuff," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He was just all over the place."
He walked two more in the third and threw wildly on a pickoff throw. He knocked Ludwick on his back with an up-and-in first pitch. Ludwick hit the next one into the upper deck in left field for a 4-0 lead, extending Great American Ball Park's streak to 70 straight games with a homer.
It's the longest such streak since Coors Field had 80 consecutive games with a homer from 2002-03.
"It's pretty obvious — I couldn't throw a strike when I wanted to," Bauer said. "You put five guys on base and you're going to get beat."
Gibson revamped his lineup for the series opener, looking to get his hitters out of a collective slump. It worked — 13 hits in a 5-3 win over the Reds on Monday night.
He kept the same top five hitters in the batting order, but got different results with Cueto on the mound.
Cueto had his start pushed back two days after he developed a blister while throwing in the bullpen. The Reds were concerned that he might not get very deep into the game and called up Todd Redmond to have another pitcher available in the bullpen, just in case.
Cueto wore long sleeves on a humid, 96-degree evening and was crisp at the outset. His control faded in the middle innings, but was still good enough to get him out of bases-loaded, two-out threats in both the fifth and sixth innings.
"We didn't have good at-bats when we had opportunities," Gibson said. "We had minimal opportunities.
"We made it hard on ourselves tonight."
NOTES: OF Jason Kubel was out of the lineup for the fourth straight game because of a sore hamstring. Gibson said he could return on Wednesday. ... Hill extended his hitting streak to eight games. ... Reds SS Zack Cozart snapped an 0-for-16 skid. ... Slumping RF Jay Bruce got a day of rest. ... RHP Mat Latos will try to extend his streak of 15 starts without a loss on Wednesday. Latos hasn't lost a game since April 18. ... RHP Mike Leake pinch hit for Cueto in the sixth and struck out, leaving him 0 for 5 career as a pinch hitter.
Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apjoekay