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Cueto struggles again as Reds fall to Marlins 6-4

The struggle continues for Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto.

Cueto (17-9) suffered his third straight loss and failed to last five innings for the second consecutive start. Cueto gave up six runs on nine hits in 4 1-3 innings, and hasn't won since August 28 at Arizona. Cueto hadn't lost three straight starts since July 25-Aug. 4, 2009.

Carlos Lee homered off Cueto and drove in three runs and the Miami Marlins beat the Cincinnati Reds 6-4.

"I can't explain it," Cueto said. "You have to take it easy. I feel good and have to keep moving forward. ... I felt fine. I was calm. You have to accept the good with the bad."

Mark Buehrle (13-12) allowed four runs on seven hits over 7 2-3 innings to improve to 4-1 in his last six starts. Jose Reyes had three hits and also drove in a run for Miami.

"Fortunately, we scored some runs early and I just tried to go out there and keep them off base," Buehrle said.

Cueto didn't seem to have his stuff from the start.

"He lost location. He was wild high, missing away," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "And when he came in throwing strikes, it was middle of the plate, belt high. Those are the ones that hurt him."

The Marlins chased Cueto with a three-run fifth, capped by a two-run homer by Lee, who hit a 3-1 pitch over the center field scoreboard that gave Miami a 6-2 lead. The homer followed Reyes' double that scored Justin Ruggiano.

"It was one bad pitch," Cueto said. "It's part of the game."

The Reds made it 6-4 on Ryan Ludwick's two-run homer off Buehrle in the eighth. Buehrle was then replaced by Mike Dunn. Steve Cishek pitched a scoreless ninth for his 14th save in 18 opportunities.

Trailing 3-0, the Reds closed to 3-1 when Valdez singled in Ryan Hanigan in the third. Cincinnati picked up another run in the fourth after Jay Bruce tripled, then scored on a single by Scott Rolen to make it 3-2. It was Bruce's first hit in 18 at-bats.

The Marlins jumped on Cueto for three runs in the first inning. After Ruggiano and Reyes hit consecutive one-out singles, Giancarlo Stanton drove in both with a triple. Lee then drove in Stanton with a sacrifice fly.

Cueto had trouble spotting his breaking ball all night, and the fifth inning proved costly.

"He hung a slider to Ruggiano and threw a fastball to Lee right over the plate," Baker said. "That's the main thing - location, location, and location. We've got to find Johnny's release point to get him there again."

NOTES: Buehrle has now pitched 188 1-3 innings to close in on his quest to eclipse the 200-inning mark for the 12th straight year...Lee returned to the Marlins lineup after leaving Friday's game when he jammed his neck sliding into second base and colliding with Reds SS Valdez. ... Reyes has an eight-game hit streak against the Reds. ... Cincinnati rookie SS Zack Cozart, on the DL since Sept. 3 with a left oblique strain, took batting practice on Saturday. ... The Reds bullpen hasn't given up a run in 17 innings over the last five games.