(AP) – The Cincinnati Reds have added another impressive arm to their rotation, but Johnny Cueto continues to be the most reliable.
Cueto tries to put the Reds back above .500 on Thursday night in the opener of this four-game series with the visiting San Francisco Giants.
Cincinnati’s starting pitchers rank fourth in the majors with a 3.34 ERA and are first with 218 1-3 innings.
The Reds (17-17) appear to have bolstered their rotation after Raisel Iglesias allowed one run and two hits in eight innings of a 5-1 win over Atlanta on Wednesday.
“There is a scenario that he can stay with us,” manager Bryan Price said of the highly touted Cuban defector, who was making just his second career start. “He has a better understanding of where he needs to go with his pitches than most pitchers his age.”
Cueto (3-3, 2.98 ERA) is again the anchor of Cincinnati’s staff, leading the NL with 51 1-3 innings.
The right-hander has logged at least seven in each of his three home starts, going 1-1 with a 1.23 ERA. He’s completed at least eight in three of his last four starts overall, winning each time he did.
Cueto gave up three of the four runs he allowed in the ninth, and was pulled with one out in a 10-4 win over the Chicago White Sox on Saturday. Cueto, who threw 123 pitches, attributed the late struggles to waiting around for the Reds to conclude a seven-run ninth.
“I felt great,” Cueto told MLB’s official website through a translator. “It felt good all the way until I sat down a long time. I was waiting. That’s part of the game.”
Cueto is 3-1 with a 1.98 ERA in five career regular season starts against San Francisco (17-17).
The Giants will counter with Tim Lincecum (3-2, 2.00), who’s allowed six hits over 14 scoreless innings to win his last two starts.
The right-hander struck out a season-high eight over six innings of a 6-0 win over Miami on Friday. He escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fifth by striking out Giancarlo Stanton, eliciting some emotion out of the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner.
“It was just a big situation,” Lincecum said. “I was pretty excited. It’s just an emotional setting.”
Lincecum has received five runs of support in each of his last two starts, improving to 45-0 in 59 games when being backed by at least five runs.
Offensive support may be necessary again since he’s 0-4 with a 9.79 ERA in six starts against the Reds, the only NL team he hasn’t beaten.
San Francisco lost for the seventh time in 10 road games, 4-3 to Houston on Wednesday.
Buster Posey went 3 for 5 with a homer and three RBIs as the designated hitter and is batting .358 over his last 15 games.
He should be back behind the plate in Cincinnati, but he’s 3 for 25 in his last seven regular season games there. Posey, though, is 3 for 7 with two walks against Cueto while Angel Pagan is 4 for 7 with a triple.
Pagan has five hits in two games and is a career .328 hitter at Cincinnati.
The Reds have won four straight and 11 of 14 against the Giants.
Updated May 14, 2015
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