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Cueto, Reds earn landmark win for Baker

Aug 11, 2011 - 8:59 PM Cincinnati, OH (Sports Network) - Johnny Cueto struck out nine in seven strong innings, leading the Reds to a 2-1 victory over the Rockies and helping manager Dusty Baker pick up a landmark win.

Cueto (8-5) allowed only three hits and two walks -- most of which came in the fifth inning, when he escaped a bases-loaded situation. But that was the only jam Cueto faced Thursday.

The right-hander lowered his earned run average to 1.94, which leads the National League, and picked up the win after the Cincinnati bullpen managed to hang on to the lead.

Aroldis Chapman worked out of a dangerous situation in the eighth, and Francisco Cordero gave up a home run to Seth Smith in the ninth. But Cordero closed out the game to secure Baker's 300th victory with the Reds. Baker is in his fourth season with the club and has an overall record of 300-304.

Jay Bruce drove in a run and scored during the first inning for Cincinnati, which split the four-game series.

"Runs are always good, especially early and especially when Johnny's been doing so well all year," Bruce said. "To get him a lead early is pretty comforting, when he gets the ball and goes out there and does what he does."

Jhoulys Chacin (9-9) pitched all eight innings for the Rockies, striking out nine while giving up six hits and three walks, but took the hard-luck loss after Colorado's lineup failed to come through in several key situations.

"Tremendous pitching performance on both sides of the field by two young kids," said Rockies manager Jim Tracy. "They are not only two of the more dynamic young kids in our league right now, god willing health doesn't become an issue for either one of them, will continue to be."

The Reds grabbed the lead in the first inning, when Joey Votto doubled with two outs before scoring on Bruce's single to center. Bruce then moved to second on a base hit by Ramon Hernandez, and crossed the plate thanks to an error.

Rockies third baseman Chris Nelson threw the ball away on a short grounder by Drew Stubbs, allowing Bruce to come home.

Colorado didn't have many scoring opportunities against Cueto, but loaded the bases with two away in the fifth after Chacin and Dexter Fowler singled, and Mark Ellis walked.

That brought up Carlos Gonzalez, who worked the count to 2-2. But after fouling off Cueto's fifth pitch, he couldn't touch a 95 m.p.h. fastball down the middle, ending the inning.

Gonzalez had another chance in the eighth, when Chapman walked Fowler to begin the inning before giving up a single to Ellis. But Gonzalez sliced a ball to shortstop, allowing the Reds to turn a double play. Chapman then fanned Eliezer Alfonzo.

Smith made the game interesting in the ninth, crushing Cordero's second pitch over the right field wall.

However, Cordero retired the next three batters to end the game and pick up his 22nd save.

Game Notes

Cueto was coming off his shortest start of the season. He allowed five runs in 3 2/3 innings to the Cubs last Saturday...Cueto's nine strikeouts were a season high...Because Cueto missed the first month of the season while on the disabled list, he has not always qualified for the ERA title. A pitcher must throw an inning for every number of games played by his team to be in contention. With Thursday's start, Cueto has thrown 120 1/3 innings for the Reds, who played their 118th game (57-61) of the season...The Reds improved to 19-27 in one-run games this season, though still lead the majors in one-run losses...The final three games of the series were decided by one run...The Rockies' last three losses have all come by one run...Chacin matched a season high with his nine strikeouts.