Pittsburgh, PA – Johnny Cueto allowed just one run on seven hits in a complete-game win Friday, as the Cincinnati Reds easily handled the Pittsburgh Pirates, 6-1, in the opener of a weekend three-game set.
Zack Cozart and Drew Stubbs hit back-to-back solo home runs and Jay Bruce added his own blast for the Reds, who saw Cueto (4-0) continue his early- season success, lowering his earned run average to a paltry 1.31. He struck out four and walked none.
"We're a pretty resilient team and we understand how good we are," Bruce said. "We know that if we play well, we can play with anybody and beat anyone."
Kevin Correia (1-2) suffered the loss, surrendering five runs on nine hits through seven frames. Nate McLouth had two hits and scored for the Pirates, who have dropped three of four.
The Reds got on the board in the second inning. Jay Bruce hit a one-out double and moved to third on Scott Rolen's groundout. Chris Heisey then converted a safety squeeze, placing a bunt in between the pitcher's mound and third base and beating the throw for the game's first run.
With two outs in the fourth, Heisey bounced Correia's first offering just past left fielder Alex Presley's glove and off the wall. Heisey settled for a triple on the play, and made it 2-0 on Ryan Hanigan's double down the third base line.
Pittsburgh got one back in the home fourth. Nate McLouth and Neil Walker led off the inning with singles that put runners on the corners, and Pedro Alvarez hit a sacrifice fly to plate McLouth.
But Cincinnati restored its two-run edge in the fifth before pushing it to four in the seventh and five in the eighth.
In the fifth, Cozart led off with a single and went to second on Joey Votto's groundout before scoring when Brandon Phillips roped a single to center.
Two innings later, Cozart pulled a 3-1 changeup several rows into the left- field seats. Stubbs blasted the next pitch just over the wall in left-center.
Bruce made use of right field in the next inning, smacking reliever Chris Resop's offering out to right-center.
"They're a big-swing ballclub," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. "To finish with three homers in the seventh and eighth [innings], that was too much for us to cover tonight."
Cueto improved to 11-3 in his career against the Pirates...Heisey recorded an outfield assist...Pittsburgh had just two runners in scoring position, and stranded both...The probables for Saturday's second game are Mike Leake (0-3) for the Reds against James McDonald (1-1).