CLEVELAND — Johnny Cueto added a few wrinkles and changes to go with his crackling fastball.
The rookie right-hander won for the first time in four starts for Cincinnati, combining with four Reds relievers to shut out the Cleveland Indians 5-0 on Saturday night.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
”I've been working on my change-up and slider,“ Cueto said through an interpreter. ”Tonight they were working, so I used them.“
Reds Manager Dusty Baker had praised the 22-year-old, who went only 61⁄3 innings, but constantly worked out of trouble to win for the first time since June 6 at Florida.
”He had outstanding tempo, commanded both sides of the plate and got out of some jams,“ Baker said. ”He's matured a lot. He's learning not to fight himself and control his emotions.“
Cueto (6-8) struck out Sal Fasano with the bases loaded to end the second inning, left two runners stranded in both the fourth and sixth, and got key double plays in the first and fifth.
”We didn't do a particularly good job against their starter,“ Indians Manager Eric Wedge said after Cleveland fell to 6-11 in interleague play. ”We had some chances we let slip away. I felt like we could have eased our way back into it, but we didn't.“
Cueto gave up five hits, hit two batters and left after issuing his third walk — to Fasano with one out in the seventh.
Reliever Bill Bray yielded a double to Grady Sizemore before David Weathers came on and slammed the door on the Indians yet again. With runners on second and third, the right-hander got Jamey Carroll to line to second and threw a called third strike past Ben Francisco.
Cincinnati won for only the fourth time in 13 games, but clinched the season series in the battle of Ohio's teams. The Reds swept three games from the Indians last month in Cincinnati and are 1-1 in this three-game series.
Paul Bako, in an 0-for-15 slump, sliced on opposite-field three-run double to left field in the fourth to give the Reds a 4-0 lead against St. Xavier graduate Paul Byrd (3-8).
”That was what the game came down to,“ Byrd said. ”I hung a curveball and he did a good job slapping it down the line.
”I walked a guy that inning. I can't afford to do things like that. I had my best fastball in two years. It's too bad I couldn't take advantage of that.“
It was the same situation Cueto had escaped from in the second — the bases loaded with the No. 9 hitter coming to bat.
”Johnny got a strikeout and their guy didn't get out of the same jam,“ Baker said. ”That was huge, the type of clutch hit we've been missing, the difference in the game.“