Cueto hopes to continue mastery of Bucs

Cincinnati Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto aims to continue his impressive start to the season against a team he's dominated throughout his career.

Cueto has fashioned a 12-4 mark with a 2.54 ERA in 19 career starts against the Pittsburgh Pirates going into Saturday's game at PNC Park, a stadium in which he's 7-2 with a 2.10 ERA in 11 starts. Cueto is coming off a victory Sunday against Washington . He allowed a three-run homer to Kurt Suzuki, but otherwise was solid as he gave up seven hits over six frames. He walked three and had six strikeouts.

Cueto, who has produced 15 strikeouts through his first two starts of the season, will try to keep the team's recent struggles on the mound in the rearview mirror. Cincinnati has given up 21 runs over its last three games, all defeats.

Last night, Andrew McCutchen's homer in the bottom of the seventh inning was the difference as Pittsburgh edged Cincinnati, 6-5, in the opener of this three-game series.

McCutchen finished with two hits and three RBI, while Neil Walker drove in a pair of runs for the Pirates, who have won three of four.

Tony Watson (1-0) gave up two runs in the top of the seventh, but still picked up the win in relief. Jason Grilli stranded two in the ninth to close out the game and earn his fourth save.

Brandon Phillips homered twice and Devin Mesoraco knocked in two runs for the Reds, losers of three straight games.

J.J. Hoover (0-1) was charged with the loss after giving up McCutchen's deciding blast while recording only one out in the seventh.

"He one of the best players in the league," Reds manager Dusty Baker said of McCutchen.

McCutchen greeted Hoover rudely, as his second home run of the year just cleared the wall in left to give the Pirates a 6-5 edge.

"I was able to get a good pitch and hit it out," McCutchen said simply.

Jeff Locke, a 25-year-old left-hander will make his second start of the season for the Pirates tonight. He was a 6-2 loser at Dodger Stadium on Sunday. He gave up eight hits and four runs over six innings. Locke, who was Pittsburgh's minor league Pitcher of the Year in 2012, didn't get a decision in his only start against the Reds on Sept. 23, 2011 when he gave up a run over 4 2/3 innings.

It's been a great start to the season thus far for Pirates leadoff hitter Starling Marte, who has six straight multi-hit games. He's reached base safely in nine of the first 10 contests.

The Reds went 11-7 against the Pirates last year