|Cincinnati (4-2) «||3||0||0||0||0||3||0||0||x||6||11||0|
The Reds pitcher came off the mound after the sixth inning of his start Sunday against the Washington Nationals with the score tied, 3-all.
"I said, `I want three runs here. Do it for me,"' Cueto said.
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Todd Frazier confirmed Cueto's order.
"I was screaming with him," the Cincinnati third baseman said. "He was saying it in Spanish, but we understood."
Boy, did they. The Reds scored three runs off Washington ace Stephen Strasburg on their way to a 6-3 win in what started out as a highly anticipated matchup of young aces.
Jay Bruce drove in three runs as Cincinnati wrapped up an impressive opening week homestand. Bruce, Shin-Soo Choo, Xavier Paul and Brandon Phillips each had two hits to back Cueto (1-0) and help the Reds win the rubber match of their three-game series with Washington. They pleased manager Dusty Baker by finishing 4-2 at home against the Nationals and Los Angeles Angels, two teams expected to contend this season for post-season berths.
"That's really big," Baker said. "That's what you plan on doing. You want to win two out of three and then maybe go on a long winning streak. You want to get as far away from .500 as possible."
Cueto needed 108 pitches to get through six innings, allowing seven hits and three runs. He walked three and struck out six. Aroldis Chapman allowed one hit and had two strikeouts in the ninth for his second save.
"There's pride in facing him," Cueto said. "He's a good pitcher like I am. It was a competitive situation."
Strasburg (1-1) allowed nine hits and six runs with four walks and five strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. He threw 114 pitches, 73 for strikes. The Reds didn't exactly overpower him, connecting for just one extra-base hit and three infield singles. They scored one run on an infield out and the go-ahead run on a fielder's-choice grounder.
"I learned a lot out there," Strasburg said about facing an opponent's ace. "You want to be in that situation and go deep into the ballgame."
The Reds knocked Strasburg out with that three-run sixth. Rookie Derrick Robinson, called up on Wednesday to replace the injured Ryan Ludwick, led off with his first major league hit, a sharp one-hopper just out of the reach of diving third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.
Robinson went to third on Choo's single to center and slid across the plate with the go-ahead run just ahead of second baseman Danny Espinosa's throw on Paul's fielder's choice.
"It's not 100 percent that I'm going to score there," Robinson said. "I just try to use my God-given talent as much as possible."
Robinson's speed is what made him the front-runner to be called up when Ludwick went down, Baker said.
"Speed kills," Baker said. "Speed doesn't go into slumps. I love speed. I love power, too, but I love speed."
Both runners moved up on Joey Votto's chopper to Strasburg and Phillips singled to left through the drawn-in infield to drive in Paul and end Strasburg's day. Ryan Mattheus relieved Strasburg, and Bruce greeted him with a run-scoring infield single to shortstop Ian Desmond.
The duel between the two right-handers nearly fizzled early.
Strasburg allowed as many hits in the first inning Sunday as he did while throwing seven shutout innings against Miami during a 2-0 win in Washington's opener on April 1. Four straight runners reached base, including Paul and Phillips with infield singles and Bruce with a bases-loaded, two-run double. Phillips scored the Reds' third run of the inning on Todd Frazier's groundout.
|Jay Bruce doubles and knocks in three runs to power the Reds past the Nationals. (Getty Images)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Denard Span, CF||3||0||1||0||2||1||1||.250|
|Jayson Werth, RF||4||0||1||0||0||1||3||.240|
|Bryce Harper, LF||4||0||1||0||0||2||2||.360|
|Ryan Zimmerman, 3B||4||0||0||0||0||0||1||.238|
|Chad Tracy, 1B||4||0||0||0||0||2||0||.111|
|Ian Desmond, SS||4||1||1||0||0||1||0||.174|
|Danny Espinosa, 2B||3||1||1||0||1||0||0||.182|
|Kurt Suzuki, C||4||1||3||3||0||0||1||.333|
|Stephen Strasburg, P||3||0||0||0||0||2||2||.000|
|Ryan Mattheus, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Henry Rodriguez, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Tyler Moore, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.000|
|a-struck out for Rodriguez in the 9th|
|2B - Ian Desmond (2, Cueto), Danny Espinosa (3, Cueto), Kurt Suzuki 2 (2, Cueto, Chapman)|
|HR - Kurt Suzuki (1, Cueto)|
|RBI - Kurt Suzuki 3 (3)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|E - Chad Tracy (1, Misplayed grounder)|
|Stephen Strasburg (L,1-1)||5.1||9||6||6||4||5||0||4.38|
|IBB - Hanigan by Stephen Strasburg|
|Pitches-Strikes - Stephen Strasburg 114-73, Ryan Mattheus 41-23, Henry Rodriguez 9-5|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Stephen Strasburg 9-4, Ryan Mattheus 3-0, Henry Rodriguez 2-1|
|Batters Faced - Stephen Strasburg 31, Ryan Mattheus 9, Henry Rodriguez 3|
|Shin-Soo Choo, CF||4||1||2||0||1||0||0||.375|
|Xavier Paul, LF||4||2||2||1||0||0||1||.375|
|Sean Marshall, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Jack Hannahan, PH||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||.500|
|Jonathan Broxton, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Aroldis Chapman, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Joey Votto, 1B||3||1||0||0||2||2||3||.238|
|Brandon Phillips, 2B||5||1||2||1||0||1||3||.333|
|Jay Bruce, RF||5||0||2||3||0||0||0||.241|
|Todd Frazier, 3B||3||0||1||1||2||0||0||.480|
|Zack Cozart, SS||5||0||0||0||0||1||5||.125|
|Ryan Hanigan, C||3||0||0||0||1||2||4||.063|
|Johnny Cueto, P||2||0||0||0||0||0||3||.000|
|b- Derrick Robinson, PH-LF||2||1||1||0||0||1||0||.250|
|a-singled for Marshall in the 7th|
|b-singled for Cueto in the 6th|
|2B - Jay Bruce (4, Strasburg)|
|RBI - Xavier Paul (5), Brandon Phillips (5), Jay Bruce 3 (4), Todd Frazier (9)|
|SB - Shin-Soo Choo (1, 2nd base off Strasburg/Suzuki)|
|Team LOB - 13|
|DP - Cozart-B. Phillips-Votto|
|PB - Ryan Hanigan (1)|
|Johnny Cueto (W,1-0)||6||7||3||3||3||6||1||2.77|
|Sean Marshall (H,1)||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||0.00|
|Jonathan Broxton (H,1)||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||0.00|
|Aroldis Chapman (S,2)||1||1||0||0||0||2||0||0.00|
|Pitches-Strikes - Johnny Cueto 108-71, Sean Marshall 14-10, Jonathan Broxton 10-7, Aroldis Chapman 17-12|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Johnny Cueto 7-4, Sean Marshall 1-1, Aroldis Chapman 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Johnny Cueto 27, Sean Marshall 3, Jonathan Broxton 3, Aroldis Chapman 4|
|Attendance - 32514|
|Game Time - 3:07|
|Temperature - 70|
|Umpires - Home - Jerry Meals, First Base - Marvin Hudson, Second Base - Jordan Baker, Third Base - Tim McClelland|