The good news for the Pittsburgh Pirates is that they are a confident bunch these days, entering Wednesday night as winners of eight of their past 10 games. A win against the Cincinnati Reds would have pulled the Bucs to a season-high three games over .500 and only a game out of first place in the National League Central.
The bad news is that they had to do it against Johnny Cueto, who has owned the Bucs throughout his career. This year alone Cueto had two previous starts against the Pirates, pitching 16 innings with a 1.69 ERA.
He made it looks easy again, tossing 7.2 innings of six hit ball, as the Reds defeated the Bucs 5-4 in Game 2 of the series between the division rivals.
Brad Lincoln started for the Bucs and other than allowing a second inning solo homer to Brandon Phillips, looked good through three innings. However Lincoln ran into trouble in the fourth, allowing four runs, three of which came on a bases clearing double by Ludwick.
Doug Slaten came in to throw three scoreless innings and then the Bucs finally got to Cueto in the eighth.
Rod Barajas led off the eighth with a double and advanced to third on a pinch hit single by Pedro Alvarez. After Josh Harrison lined out and Alex Presley struck out, second baseman Neil Walker got the Bucs on the board with an RBI single.
Logan Ondrusek relieved Cueto and Andrew McCutchen greeted him unkindly with a three-run opposite field homer, his 10th of the season, to cut the Reds lead to 5-4. Jose Tabata then pinch hit and grounded out to end the rally.
Reds closer Aroldis Chapman pitched a perfect ninth, striking out two for his sixth save of the season.
Winning Pitcher: Cueto (6-3)
Losing Pitcher: Lincoln (3-1)
Save: Chapman (6)
Home Runs: McCutchen (10)
Player of the Game: Cueto: 7.2 ip, 6 H, 3 ER, 6 K
Up Next: at Cincinnati, Thursday, June 7 at 7:05 pm EST
Probable Starters: Kevin Correia (2-5, 4.19) vs. Mike Leake (2-5, 4.95)