The right-hander will be activated off the disabled list to make his first start in more than a month when the Reds open a three-game road set against the New York Mets on Monday night.
Cincinnati starters have pitched to an ERA of 3.20, with 14 2-3 straight scoreless innings heading into this contest.
Cueto (1-0, 2.60 ERA) hasn't started since April 13 due to a strained right lat. He yielded one run over eight innings in two rehab starts at Class A Dayton.
The injury-plagued pitcher says his injury is similar to the one he had in 2011, when he changed his delivery.
"I'm going to have to see what's going on," Cueto told the Reds' official website. "If that continues to happen, I'm going to have to make some changes in my mechanics."
Cueto had been 0-3 with a 6.58 ERA in five starts versus the Mets (17-24) before yielding one run over seven innings of a 3-1 victory June 17, his lone start of last season against them.
Bruce enters with two notable hitting streaks of 10 games, batting .390 with four homers and 12 RBIs during an overall run and .349 with 11 RBIs during another on the road.
Joey Votto is also surging, going 17 for 33 in an eight-game hit streak and 28 for 56 during a 14-game run on the road. He leads the major leagues with 37 walks and an on-base percentage of .473, with teammate Shin-Soo Choo not far behind in those departments (31 walks, .463 OBP).
Votto is 5 for 9 against the Mets' Shaun Marcum (0-4, 6.75), who has dropped all four starts this season after losing four times in 21 outings with Milwaukee in 2012.
Marcum has limited the Reds to a .213 average in four starts, but he's allowed opponents to bat .341 this year. The right-hander, who visited a chiropractor the day before his last outing Wednesday in St. Louis, has failed to last past the fifth inning three times.
The Mets have scored more than four runs once in their last 13 home games, with three or fewer in seven straight. Daniel Murphy went 14 for 28 during a 3-4 road trip, delivering a go-ahead solo homer in the eighth inning of a 4-3 win over the Cubs on Sunday."I feel like I'm taking better swings," Murphy said. "I feel better with my swing. I'm also getting better pitches to hit."
The Reds entered the weekend as winners of six straight before losing two of three in Philadelphia. Closer Aroldis Chapman allowed back-to-back solo homers to blow his second straight save chance in a 3-2 defeat Sunday.
"An unfortunate ending, stunning, but that's the game," manager Dusty Baker said.
|April 27, 2013||Chris Heisey||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|April 27, 2013||Chris Heisey||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained hamstring|
|April 24, 2013||Manny Parra||15-Day DL||Strained left pectoral muscle|
|April 22, 2013||Jonathan Broxton||Day-to-Day||Bruised right hand|
|April 20, 2013||Zack Cozart||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised right hand|
|April 20, 2013||Ryan Hanigan||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|New York Mets|
|May 14, 2013||Scott Atchison||15-Day DL||Right elbow inflammation|
|May 09, 2013||Jeurys Familia||15-Day DL||Right biceps tendinitis|
|April 29, 2013||David Wright||Day-to-Day||Stiff neck|
|April 23, 2013||Jonathon Niese||Day-to-Day||Lower right leg contusion|
|March 22, 2013||Jenrry Mejia||60-Day DL||Right elbow inflammation|
|March 22, 2013||Shaun Marcum||15-Day DL||Neck strain|
NEW YORK (AP) -- Things weren't going well for Johnny Cueto in his return from the disabled list, so he had a conversation - with himself.
That's all it took.
Cueto responded to the pep talk by striking out six of his last seven batters, then Jay Bruce helped make him a winner by hitting a tiebreaking home run that carried the Cincinnati Reds to a 4-3 victory over the New York Mets on Monday night.
"I asked myself, `What was going on, what happened?"' Cueto said through a translator. "I told myself I have to start pitching the way I am. Then after that, I said, `That is me."'
Brandon Phillips had a two-run single for his first career hit off Shaun Marcum in 13 at-bats. Phillips also made two sparkling plays in the field to help the Reds bounce back from a stunning 3-2 loss to the Phillies in which closer Aroldis Chapman gave up two home runs.
Chapman, the Reds' fifth reliever, struck out two - one on a 99 mph fastball - in a perfect ninth for his ninth save. He had blown his two previous save chances.
"Got to get back on the horse, right away," manager Dusty Baker said. "Otherwise it festers and grows."
Cueto (2-0) started for the first time since leaving his outing April 13 in the fifth inning with a strained left upper-back muscle. Making his fourth start of the season, the Reds' ace gave up three hits and three runs with eight strikeouts in five innings. But he walked four, including one in the third, when Marlon Byrd touched him for a three-run homer.
"I knew you just couldn't keep getting in trouble like that, walking guys without centering one, but that's just what happened," Baker said. "But he came back and pitched well."
After the homer, Cueto struck out four in a row with a fastball that reached the mid-90s.
His counterpart, Marcum (0-5), rarely reached 86 mph in pitching at least six innings for the second straight start after failing to finish five in any of his first three starts with the Mets. Still, he remains winless in his first season in New York.
Slumping Mets first baseman Ike Davis slid deeper into his monthlong funk, going 0 for 3 and being called for interference in the field when he was clipped at first by Joey Votto , who was making a turn toward second base in the Reds' three-run first inning.
Davis was lifted in a double switch after striking out in the sixth, his second strikeout of the night. He has two hits in his last 36 at-bats, and only one RBI in May.
Marcum appeared headed for another early exit after a 20-minute top of the first. He walked Shin-Soo Choo leading off. After an out, Votto, the NL player of the week, hit a smash that ricocheted off first base and into right field. As he made his turn at first, Votto nudged Davis, who was nonchalantly standing near the bag, watching the play. Votto was tagged out at second but Davis was charged with an error for interference and Votto was awarded second.
"I was looking for the ball and I took a couple of steps," Davis said. "That's why I was there longer than I should've been."
Phillips followed with a two-run single and Bruce doubled in a run, extending his hitting streak to 11. Marcum struck out Todd Frazier and Xavier Paul , and walked off to mock cheers.
"We've been through this now for what, five starts? I get hit, it's location. I made four or five mistakes today and they all got hit," Marcum said. "Got to limit the mistakes."
The right-hander did not give up another hit until Paul singled with two outs in the fourth.
Bruce broke the tie with a scorching line drive into the right-field seats leading off the sixth.
"Woo, that was a missile," Baker said.
Mets manager Terry Collins took a chance on putting strikeout-prone Rick Ankiel in the second spot in the order because he was 7 for 16 against Cueto, and Ankiel led off the third with a single. David Wright walked and, after Lucas Duda struck out, Byrd sent a drive to left field for his fourth homer this year.
Byrd came in 6 for 11 against Cueto.
The Mets loaded the bases in the first on two walks and a single by Duda, bringing up Davis.
The scoreboard operator urged fans to cheer on Davis, and many of the 23,038 in attendance made some noise. Davis hit a sharp grounder toward second, but Phillips dived to his right to stop it and then threw out Davis.
"I hit one ball hard - at the wrong guy, a Gold Glover," Davis said.
Phillips then showed why he's a three-time Gold Glove winner in the fifth, making a long run into center field for a basket catch with his back to the plate. It was a very difficult play, but he made it look easy.
"I practice that," Phillips said.
Collins and reliever LaTroy Hawkins were ejected by plate umpire Tom Hallion after the top of the seventh for disputing a call that Phillips was hit by a pitch. Collins and Hawkins insisted the ball hit the knob of the bat and not Phillips' hand.
NOTES: The Mets signed RHP David Aardsma to a minor league contract. He requested his release from the Miami Marlins organization Wednesday. The former Seattle closer missed all of 2011 and made only one appearance late last season with the Yankees. He will report to Triple-A Las Vegas. ... The Reds sent INF Neftali Soto to Triple-A Louisville to make room for Cueto. ... The Mets will host military appreciation night on Sunday. The Mets have given out more than 3,800 tickets to military personnel and their families for the game against Atlanta.