Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011
Posted: 10:17 a.m.
The Cincinnati Reds might not have much to play for in the final two weeks of the season, but Johnny Cueto certainly has reason to look forward to his last few starts of 2011.
Cueto continues his quest to finish with the lowest ERA in the majors when he faces the Chicago Cubs for the second time in as many starts Wednesday night at Great American Ball Park.
Tied with the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw for the majors' ERA lead, Cueto (9-5, 2.36 ERA) is aiming to become the first Reds pitcher to lead the majors in ERA since Elmer Riddle posted a 2.24 mark in 1941.
"Of course I want to (have the lowest ERA)," Cueto told the Reds' official website. "I've put in all my best to get it done."
Cueto is 2-0 with a 3.23 ERA in six starts since he allowed five runs and three walks in 3 2-3 innings of an 11-4 loss to the Cubs on Aug. 6. He also faced Chicago in his most recent outing last Wednesday when he gave up three runs in seven innings of a 6-3 loss.
Cueto is 1-1 with a 4.32 ERA in three starts versus Chicago (65-83) this season - all at Wrigley Field. He's 2-2 with a 5.04 ERA against the Cubs at Great American Ball Park.
"He's tough, and I wish I was smart enough to know why we've had some success against him, and we have," Cubs manager Mike Quade said.
Cueto looks to give the Reds (72-76) a second straight strong outing after Mike Leake allowed a run in eight innings to help them snap a three-game skid and even the set with a 2-1 victory Tuesday. Brandon Phillips homered for the third time in the series as Cincinnati won for just the fifth time in 15 games.
Phillips, whose three hits in six at-bats over the last two games have all left the park, has batted .362 with four homers and 15 RBIs in his last 25 contests. He's 9 for 27 in his last seven versus Chicago.
Carlos Pena and Darwin Barney combined for four of the six hits for the Cubs, who lost for just the third time in nine games.
Among the major league leaders with 190 hits, Starlin Castro had his 13-game hitting streak snapped after going 0 for 3 on Tuesday. The All-Star shortstop is 2 for 14 versus Cueto.
Scheduled Chicago starter Casey Coleman (2-7, 6.65) has not won since May 19 at Florida, and is 0-3 with a 5.74 ERA in five starts since being recalled from Triple-A Iowa on Aug. 17. He gave up four runs and struck out five in five innings but did not factor in the decision of a 5-4 loss at New York on Friday.
"It's not like I've been getting crushed or walking people," Coleman told the Cubs' official website. "It's just the point where if you give up a few hits, you need to bear down and get out of it."
The right-hander also did not earn a decision after he allowed two runs and struck out six in six innings of a 3-2 win over Cincinnati on May 7.
Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.