(Sports Network) - Dominican righty Johnny Cueto targets his 20th win on
Sunday when the Cincinnati Reds close out the season series with the
Pittsburgh Pirates with the finale of a three-game set at PNC Park.
The 26-year-old got within a game of 20 victories in his last start on Sept.
25 against Milwaukee, scattering five hits and two runs in seven innings of a
4-2 victory at home in Cincinnati.
He was 17-6 in late August after defeating Arizona, but had a subsequent
three-start stretch in which he lost to Philadelphia, Houston and Miami in
succession while allowing 26 hits and 14 runs in 15 1/3 innings.
In two starts since - against the Brewers and the Chicago Cubs - he's allowed
just two runs in 10 hits in 13 innings.
Cueto, who's frequently mentioned in National League Cy Young Award chatter
with Washington's Gio Gonzalez and New York's R.A. Dickey - each of whom have
reached 20 wins - entered this season with a career-high of 12 wins in 31
starts in 2010.
He's 12-4 in 18 lifetime meetings with Pittsburgh and won a 5-4 decision the
last time he faced them on June 6 in Cincinnati.
The Reds are 21-11 in games he's pitched this season.
The Pirates oppose him with lefty Wandy Rodriguez, who appears for the 13th
time in a Pittsburgh uniform after a midseason trade with Houston.
The 33-year-old Dominican was 7-9 in 21 starts with the Astros and has since
gone 5-4 in 12 games - 11 starts - with his new team, including four
consecutive victories across his last six starts since Aug. 29.
Rodriguez allowed three runs on four hits across six innings in his last start
on Sept. 25 against the Mets in New York, winning a 10-6 decision.
He's 8-11 in 28 starts against the Reds, but got a no-decision on Sept. 10 in
Cincinnati after allowing three runs and three hits in 6 2/3 innings.
The Reds won the game, 4-3.
Pittsburgh is 6-6 in the 12 games he's pitched since the trade. Houston was
7-14 in the 21 starts he made before the deal.
On Saturday, Andrew McCutchen hit a game-winning solo homer in the bottom of
the ninth inning as the Pirates downed the Reds, 2-1.
After Josh Harrison lined out to center field to start the frame, McCutchen,
who was 0-for-4 prior to his final at-bat, smacked a 2-2 fastball off Jonathan
Broxton (3-2) into the right-center field seats.
Joel Hanrahan (5-1) worked a scoreless ninth to pick up the win.
"(McCutchen) shows up every day and leads by example," Pittsburgh manager
Clint Hurdle said. "When he's not performing to the level that he thinks he
can, he takes it personal. He's been our best player most of the season."
Pittsburgh starter Kyle McPherson tossed six scoreless frames. He fanned five,
scattered four hits and walked one for the Pirates, who had lost nine of their
previous 11 contests.
Mike Leake started the game for Cincinnati and also fired six scoreless
innings. He struck out three, surrendered four hits and walked three for the
Reds, who are one game behind the Washington Nationals for the best record in
the National League.
"I hope we stay in it the whole time so I can have a significant role in it,"
Leake said. "As a player, you always want to win and the playoffs is the time
to do it."
The Reds won nine of the initial 15 games between the teams in 2012, including
a sweep of a three-game set in Cincinnati from Sept. 10-12.
The Sports Network