The Cincinnati Reds and San Diego Padres squared off for not one, but two games at Great American Ballpark on Thursday with each team claiming a victory thanks to some stellar pitching from their starters.
Johnny Cueto (4-2) put together another masterful performance in game one for his second shutout and third complete game this season. It was his first complete game since doing so in back-to-back outings (one of those a shutout) against the Pirates on April 16 and 22. Cueto hasn't lost since April 11 against the Rays, has allowed five hits or fewer in all nine outings as well as tossing at least seven while averaging just over eight strikeouts per game.
Ian Kennedy (2-5) did his best to try and keep the Padres (20-22) in the game by tossing four shutout innings, but saw his luck stop in the fifth on a three-run homer by Brandon Phillips. Cincinnati (18-21) added some insurance in the sixth against Kennedy when Zack Cozart singled in a pair to make it a 5-0 game.
That would be enough as Cueto allowed just three hits compared to the Reds 14. He would not allow a runner to advance to second until Will Venable walked and then moved to second on fielder's indifference in the ninth. That proved insignificant when Evereth Cabera grounded out to end the game.
Game two went much differently for each team as Tyson Ross (5-3) would stymie the Reds bats. Ross did make the mistake of letting Billy Hamilton get on base in the first inning. He paid the price as Hamilton swiped second and third for stolen bases 13 and 14 to set up an RBI ground out by Phillips.
That would be the lone run for Cincinnati as they watched the Padres offense score all they needed off Jeff Francis (0-1) in the first inning. Francis was called up to make a spot start which pushed Alfredo Simon's start back to Friday in Philadelphia. He started 12 games for the Rockies last season, but posted a 6.27 ERA.
He entered Thursday's contest with a 7-14 record lifetime against the Padres and that dropped to 7-15 when Rene Rivera ripped a two-run homer over the left field wall in the top of the second. Chase Headley, the hero in Tuesday's ninth inning victory, scored another off Francis in the third when he singled in Chris Denorfia.
Francis wasn't the only pitcher to struggle in the second game as all but J.J. Hoover allowed at least one run. Logan Ondrusek walked the bases loaded before being pulled for Sean Marshall in the sixth. Former Red Yonder Alonso singled in the Padres fourth run before Marshall got Ross to line out and end the inning.
Marshall stayed on in the seventh and gave up a solo homer to Cabrera to make it a 5-1 game. Sam LeCure would be the next Reds pitcher to give up a home run when Alonso rounded the bases for the first time this season.
Meanwhile Ross allowed just three hits over seven innings with eight strikeouts, but gave the Reds several chances with five walks. One of those hits allowed Todd Frazier to extend his hitting streak to 13. The Padres Seth Smith had his ten game hit streak snapped after going 0-1 in a pinch hit appearance.
The Reds will now hit the road where they are 7-11 this season. The first stop is in Philadelphia on Friday where the Reds face a Phillies (17-21) team that has lost three straight. Kyle Kendrick (0-3, 3.98 ERA) will take the mound against Simon (4-2, 2.89 ERA) who is working on an extra days rest. With Simon starting, the Reds will likely wait to bring Tony Cingrani back into the rotation. The Reds are hoping to have catcher Devin Mesoraco back in the lineup this weekend after he completes his rehab in Louisville.