Returning from injury for the second time this season, even Johnny Cueto admits that worries of another setback could creep into his mind.
Facing the Milwaukee Brewers , whom he dominated last year, might help put him at ease.
Cueto (3-0, 2.17 ERA) has been on the DL since June 5 due to a strained right shoulder. It's his second stint on the DL this year as he also missed more than a month with a strained right lat.
The injuries have limited him to six outings, during which he's compiled a 0.88 WHIP over 37 1-3 innings.
"It feels really good right now," Cueto, through a translator, told the team's official website. "We're always going to have thoughts. I pray to God everything goes well, but it's hard to take it out of your mind like that."
However, Cueto, who allowed only one hit over eight innings in a 6-0 win at Pittsburgh on May 31 in his last start, was stingy in four outings versus Milwaukee in 2012, going 2-1 with a 1.93 ERA. He is also 3-0 with a 1.67 ERA in his last four home starts versus the Brewers.
Aramis Ramirez is the only current Brewer hitting better than .250 in more than three at-bats against Cueto, going 13 of 39 with four homers and four doubles when facing the right-hander.
The Reds (41-28) could use a dominant start from Cueto after falling to a 6-0 defeat at the hands of the Brewers (28-39) on Saturday.
Ryan Braun missed his fifth straight game with a bruised right thumb and his first since going on the DL, but it didn't keep Milwaukee from winning for the sixth time in eight games as the club became baseball's last this season to record a shutout.
"6-0 - we don't have too many of those," manager Ron Roenicke said. "It's nice to kind of be able to relax."
Juan Francisco homered and had three RBIs while Logan Schafer - filling in for Braun - recorded his second consecutive three-hit game. He's 8 for 21 over the last five games, seeing the same number of at-bats he received in the previous 10 contests.
"It's nice to play every day and get that comfort level," the 26-year-old Schafer said. "I felt good all day. One thing I've been doing a little better lately is swing at strikes and not going out of the strike zone."
After getting six innings of three-hit ball from Yovani Gallardo Saturday, Milwaukee turns to Wily Peralta (4-7, 6.03), who's won only once in his last seven starts. That stretch began May 12, when he yielded four runs and five hits across six innings in a 5-1 loss in Cincinnati.
The right-hander allowed three runs and five hits - all in the second inning - of a six-inning effort in Tuesday's 5-4 loss at Miami, but didn't get a decision.
"After the second inning, I started making pitches and was able to locate the slider, not trying to do too much or throw too hard," Peralta said.
The Reds had won 24 of the last 31 meetings in Cincinnati prior to Saturday.
|June 10, 2013||Ryan Braun||15-Day DL||Right thumb contusion|
|June 04, 2013||Marco Estrada||15-Day DL||Strained left hamstring|
|May 25, 2013||Jim Henderson||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|May 25, 2013||Jim Henderson||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|May 22, 2013||Hiram Burgos||15-Day DL||Right shoulder impingement|
|May 08, 2013||Tom Gorzelanny||15-Day DL||Left shoulder tendinitis|
|June 14, 2013||Jonathan Broxton||15-Day DL||Right elbow flexor mass strain|
|June 01, 2013||Johnny Cueto||15-Day DL||Strained right shoulder|
|May 21, 2013||Sean Marshall||15-Day DL||Sprained left shoulder|
|April 28, 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|
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Solid pitching from Johnny Cueto was all the Cincinnati Reds were looking for on Sunday.
His deft work with the bat was a bonus.
Cueto pitched six solid innings and drove in a run with a perfect suicide-squeeze in his return to the rotation and Jay Bruce homered to lift the Reds over the Milwaukee Brewers 5-1.
Donald Lutz drove in two runs with a pinch-hit single, and Zack Cozart and Joey Votto each had two hits as Cincinnati rebounded after losing 6-0 on Saturday.
Cueto, activated from the disabled list Sunday, improved to 4-0 in his seventh start of the season. He allowed five hits and one run with three strikeouts and no walks as the Reds took two of three in the weekend series.
Cueto also eased the fears of manager Dusty Baker .
"We only had one worry with Johnny Cueto - was his (shoulder) OK," Baker said. "Other than that, we don't worry about Johnny Cueto ."
Cueto made his first start since a 6-0 win at Pittsburgh on May 31. He was placed on the disabled list on June 5 for the second time this season because of a strained muscle in his right shoulder.
Alfredo Simon allowed two hits and had six strikeouts in three innings of relief for his first save of the season and second in two years with Cincinnati.
Simon, who struck out all six batters he faced in a two-inning effort against Atlanta on May 6, struck out the last five batters he faced on Sunday.
"My breaking ball and two-seamer were working really good," Simon said. "It was good to give our bullpen a rest."
Milwaukee starter Wily Peralta gave up all five Reds runs - four earned - in 5 1-3 innings. The slumping Peralta (4-8) fell to 1-6 in his last seven starts.
Carlos Gomez hit the first pitch he saw - and Cueto's seventh pitch - into the left-field seats for his 12th homer of the season to give Milwaukee a 1-0 lead.
"In the first inning, I had too many thoughts," Cueto said through an interpreter. "I was thinking too much. Finally, it was over. When I got to the dugout, Cesar Izturis said, `Just do what you normally do. If it breaks again, we'll fix it."'
"Johnny hung a slider to Gomez," Baker said. "That was the only mistake he made."
The Reds tied it with an unearned run without benefit of a hit in the second. Xavier Paul led off with a walk, and Jack Hannahan followed with a chopper to second baseman Rickie Weeks , whose throw bounced past first baseman Juan Francisco for an error.
Hannahan was forced out, and Paul moved to third on Ryan Hanigan 's grounder. Cueto drove in Paul, who broke for the plate on the pitch, with a suicide-squeeze bunt he said he didn't see.
"I thought it was going to hit me," Cueto said. "I closed my eyes."
Baker had no hesitation about flashing that signal.
"We have confidence in Johnny in almost everything," he said. "That was a situation where it was threatening to rain, and we wanted to get the lead before it rained."
Cozart led off the third with a double into the left-field corner, went to third on Votto's groundout, and scored the go-ahead run on Brandon Phillips 's checked-swing chopper back to Peralta, who dropped the ball and had to scramble and settle for the out at first.
The Brewers couldn't afford such mistakes with the way Cueto was pitching, manager Ron Roenicke said.
"Defensively, we didn't play well," Roenicke said. "Offensively, we didn't have a lot of opportunities."
Bruce followed with his 12th homer, a 469-foot drive, that landed two-thirds of the way up the right-field seats. He was more impressed with Cueto's performance.
"That was very good," he said. "I think everybody at this point was holding their breath and hoping he could come out of the game feeling good," Bruce said. "It looks like he did. I'm glad today went well."
The Reds added two runs with one out in the sixth on Hannahan's walk, Hanigan's double off the left-field wall, and Lutz's pinch-hit single up the middle against Mike Gonzalez .
NOTES: The Reds optioned RHP Pedro Villareal to Triple-A Louisville to make room on the roster for Cueto. ... Reds OF Chris Heisey is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville on Monday. Heisey has been on the disabled list since April 29 with a strained right hamstring. ... Milwaukee RHP Marco Estrada is expected to throw a bullpen session Monday. Estrada has been on the disabled list since June 5 with a strained left hamstring ... The Reds will open their first home series against Central Division rival Pittsburgh. RHP Mike Leake (6-3) is scheduled to start Monday for Cincinnati. ... Milwaukee is off Monday before opening a three-game series in Houston. Alfredo Figaro (1-0) is scheduled to start on Tuesday.