Thursday, April 23, 2009
Sports NewsMayfield's Mutterings: Springing into Mutterings

Cueto shuts down Cubs, Bruce homers in Reds' win

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[April 23, 2009]  CHICAGO (AP) -- Reds manager Dusty Baker is excited for the time when both his hitters and pitchers are performing at a high level.

Johnny Cueto pitched seven scoreless innings, Jay Bruce homered in the ninth and Cincinnati beat the Chicago Cubs 3-0 on Wednesday night.

Joey Votto had an RBI double in the eighth inning and Cueto also had two hits for the Reds, who ended the Cubs' three-game winning streak.

"We hit the ball good today against a very good pitcher in (Ted) Lilly. You know we're going to hit. It's just a matter of when and hopefully our pitching continues to throw until our hitting catches on and hopefully we'll do both at the same time," said Baker.

Cueto (1-1) gave up four hits and struck out three. He retired his last seven batters and left after throwing 108 pitches. David Weathers pitched the eighth and Francisco Cordero got the last three outs for his sixth save.

"I came out very aggressive and tried to get ahead a lot and throw the first strike," said Cueto, through an interpreter. "I was very aggressive in the strike zone and used my fastball a lot."

After being out of the starting lineup for six games with a groin strain, Milton Bradley returned and was 0-for-4 and is 1-for-23 on the season. He was called out on strikes with runners on first and second in the first inning, drawing some boos from the fans.

In the sixth, Bradley took another called third strike on a 3-2 pitch. Bradley took a few steps toward first base before home plate umpire Lance Barksdale called him out.

Bradley did not comment after the game. He left the clubhouse before media entered.

"Milton doesn't have many at-bats so he is going to be fine," said teammate Derrek Lee. "He can just flat out hit that isn't even a concern for us."

He ended the night by striking out swinging against Cordero, igniting more boos from the fans.

"Everyone is entitled to a slow start. Let's not judge a player, whomever because of a slow start," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "A lot of players get off to slow starts then build through the year and end up with an excellent year. I think it is too early to make judgments on anyone."

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Despite the loss, Lilly (2-1) was sharp again. After carrying a no-hitter through 6 2-3 innings on April 13 in a 4-0 win over Colorado in the Cubs' home opener, Lilly pitched seven solid innings, allowing one unearned run and five hits. He had two strikeouts and did not allow a walk.

Lilly was 0-4 with an 8.15 ERA in four starts against Cincinnati last season. This time, it was his throwing error that cost him.

Alex Gonzalez led off the third inning with a bunt. Lilly made a nice diving stop, but his erratic throw to first went into foul territory down the right-field line. Gonzalez ended up at second on the throwing error. Cueto followed with another bunt that went for hit and Gonzalez moved to third. Willy Taveras followed with a sacrifice fly to put the Reds ahead.

Jerry Hairston Jr. singled in the eighth inning and scored from first on Votto's double off Cubs reliever Angel Guzman.

Bruce added another run in the ninth inning with a solo shot off Cubs reliever Kevin Gregg. It was his second in two games.

Notes: Before the game, Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said the club plans to recall RHP Jeff Samardzija from Triple-A Iowa on Thursday. Hendry said the Cubs will use Samardzija as a reliever. ... Reds INF Brandon Phillips broke out of a 0-for-22 slump with a single in the fourth inning. ... Cueto had a scare in the fourth inning when he dropped to the deck to avoid Bradley's shattered bat.

[Associated Press]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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