Johnny Cueto came into tonight's game with a 12-4 career record against the Pirates, four more wins than he has against any other team. In 20 games against them, he's held Bucco hitters to a .609 OPS. Ah, those were the days.
Cueto completely throttled the Pirates on one hit over eight innings. Their only scoring chance came in the first, when Cueto walked Neil Walker and hit Andrew McCutchen. Garrett Jones followed by hitting into a force play and Travis Snider lined out. And that was it. The only hit, and only other runner, was a single by Brandon Inge, and Clint Barmes wiped that out by hitting into a double play. Oddly, Cueto struck out only six -- the Pirates did have a few line drive outs -- but . . . one-hitter.
The non-existent offense wasted a good start by Wandy Rodriguez. He allowed only five hits and three walks in seven innings. Unfortunately, two of the hits were solo HRs by Jay Bruce and the ever-popular Brandon Phillips. Rodriguez struck out five.
For the final two innings, Clint Hurdle chose LOOGY Mike Zagurski (as he's known to everybody but Clint Hurdle) to face the Reds' mostly right-handed lineup. For some strange reason, Zagurski performed exactly as he always has at the major league level. He couldn't throw strikes and he couldn't get right-handed hitters out. Well, he couldn't get left-handed hitters out, either. He didn't even manage to take one for the team; Bryan Morris had to come on to get the last out in the top of the ninth. Morris cleverly walked in a run to force the Reds to pinch-hit for Cueto, but the strategy failed when Sam LeCure retired the side in order in the bottom half of the inning.
The four runs that Zagurski allowed didn't mean anything, of course, as the game really was out of reach from the time Bruce put the first run on the board. Still, the Pirates have had a habit all season of bouncing back from discouraging games, so they can try their magic now in a three-game series.