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Johnny Cueto dominates as Reds win 4-1

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Johnny Cueto cruised to a relatively easy complete game, allowing only a ninth-inning solo home run to Andrew McCutchen as the Pirates lost 4-1.

If this is the penance the Pirates have to pay for whatever evil spell they cast over Cueto in the Wild Card game, then I'm fine with it. Despite the "Cue-to" chants echoing through a half-empty PNC Park, though, tonight's game had much more in common with previous Cueto matchups against the Pirates than with anything that happened that night in October. Cueto struck out four and walked three, but the Bucs made very little solid contact against him, with Cueto collecting 16 groundouts and allowing just three hits.

On the bright side, it was another strong start for Edinson Volquez, who battled Cueto through a scoreless pitcher's duel through the first six innings. In the seventh, Volquez allowed singles to Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier. Two batters later, Pena singled to right, then ultimately got called out after the Pirates challenged the umpire's call that Pena was safe at second. I couldn't tell why Pena was called out, but it might have spared the Bucs a nasty inning -- Zack Cozart followed with an RBI double, but Cueto grounded out, and the Reds only got two runs.

Tony Watson allowed two straight singles to start the eighth. The first was by Billy Hamilton, which always spells trouble. Hamilton did score, though not with any crazy baserunning exploits -- he trotted home when Bruce singled to right. In the ninth, Cueto singled home a run off Stolmy Pimentel, proving pretty definitively that this just wasn't the Pirates' day.