Cueto could further alleviate Baker's concerns with another solid performance against the host Arizona Diamondbacks as the teams begin a three-game series Friday night.
In his first start since May 31 due to a strained shoulder, Cueto (4-0, 2.08 ERA) came off the disabled list and allowed one run in six innings while adding an RBI on a suicide squeeze in a 5-1 win over Milwaukee on Sunday.
He's 2-0 with a 0.86 ERA over his last three starts.
Baker should feel especially confident sending the right-hander to the mound Friday. Cueto is 5-0 with a 1.66 ERA in six starts versus the Diamondbacks, who are hitting .143 against him.
However, Cueto will be monitored closely after each start in order to prevent further injury.
"At least we know what the situation is and the signs," Baker told the team's official website. "You're going to be concerned, for the lack of a better word, probably now until the end of the season."
The Reds (44-30) are coming off a four-game split of an NL Central showdown with Pittsburgh after falling 5-3 on Thursday. Jay Bruce homered to give him five over his last seven games, all solo shots.
Bruce will look to snap an 0-for-19 slump against NL West-leading Arizona as Cincinnati seeks a fifth straight victory in the series to begin a tough eight-game road trip.
The Reds also will face AL West-leading Oakland twice before a three-game set with Texas after their series with the Diamondbacks, who have won two straight following a four-game skid.
Arizona (39-33) is coming off a 3-1 win over Miami on Wednesday, as Cody Ross hit a pinch-hit three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning to break a scoreless tie.
"It hasn't been too often this year that I've contributed, so it feels nice," said Ross, who had gone hitless in his previous 13 at-bats.
Arizona's starters have largely done their part by posting a 2.14 ERA over the last six games, though the team has averaged 2.3 runs in that stretch.
"Our pitching has done great keeping us in games even though we haven't scored many runs," first baseman Paul Goldschmidt , who is hitting .143 over his last 13 games, told the team's official website. "They've done a good job keeping it close and giving us an opportunity to score at the end."
Wade Miley , who went 3-1 with a 2.93 ERA over his first seven starts but has gone 1-5 with a 6.47 ERA in seven outings since, takes the hill Friday.
Miley (4-6, 4.64) allowed six runs, though only one was earned, in six innings of Saturday's 6-4 loss at San Diego.
"When things don't go your way, it's tough," catcher Miguel Montero said of Miley.
The left-hander made two starts against the Reds last season, giving up three runs and striking out six in 5 2-3 innings of a 5-3 win July 16 before falling 5-2 on Aug. 28 after allowing three runs in seven innings.
|June 14, 2013||Jonathan Broxton||15-Day DL||Right elbow flexor mass strain|
|June 01, 2013||Johnny Cueto||15-Day DL||Strained right shoulder|
|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|
|June 10, 2013||Matt Reynolds||15-Day DL||Strained left elbow|
|May 31, 2013||Brandon McCarthy||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|May 31, 2013||Eric Chavez||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|May 30, 2013||Eric Chavez||Day-to-Day||Strained right oblique|
|May 26, 2013||Ian Kennedy||Day-to-Day||Cut on right index finger|
|May 08, 2013||J.J. Putz||15-Day DL||Strained right elbow|
PHOENIX (AP) -- Paul Goldschmidt did it again, and this time he got some help from his teammates.
Goldschmidt had his third two-homer game of the year and the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Cincinnati Reds 11-5 Friday night in Johnny Cueto 's worst outing in three seasons.
Goldschmidt drove in three runs to raise his NL-leading RBI total to 65. Gerardo Parra hit a leadoff home run for Arizona and Jason Kubel tied his career high with four hits.
Kubel doubled in a run and scored twice.
Arizona had not scored more than four runs in any of its previous six games.
"That was a great job tonight up and down the lineup," Goldschmidt said. "We've got the talent to do it, and I think we're going to do it. It's just part of the game. It's up and down sometimes. Sometimes we're going to struggle and sometimes we're going to hit the ball well."
Cueto (4-1) went 4 1-3 innings and allowed seven runs, his most since Milwaukee scored eight against him on Sept. 22, 2010. The 11 hits off him matched his career worst.
"Things did not go well," Cueto said through a translator. "It is just one outing but a bad outing. I have a lot more outings, so I have to keep my head up and continue."
Jay Bruce hit his 150th career home run for the Reds. Joey Votto drove in two runs with a long homer and a double.
Will Harris (1-0) got one out in relief of starter Wade Miley to get the victory.
Goldschmidt has four home runs in four games and 19 for the year, one fewer than he had last season. He hit a two-run shot off Cueto in the fifth and a solo homer off Curtis Partch in the sixth that traveled an estimated 457 feet, making it the longest of Goldschmidt's career.
"He's huge for our team," manager Kirk Gibson said. "I don't think anybody else has over 20-some RBIs, Goldy's in the 60s. He's the nucleus of our team, certainly offensively. He's dependable, takes care of himself properly and he keeps pushing on."
Cueto, in his second outing since returning from his second stint on the disabled list this season, lost to Arizona for the first time. He had been 5-0 with a 1.66 ERA in six starts against the Diamondbacks. The seven runs he allowed Friday equaled the total he gave up combined in his six other starts against them.
The Reds, making a cross-country trek after splitting four games against Pittsburgh, had counted on a much longer outing from Cueto.
"The timing of it all wasn't good because our bullpen was already beat up when we came in here," manager Dusty Baker said. "We were hoping to get quite a few innings out of Johnny tonight and get our bullpen back right for the next couple of days and the off day."
Things began badly for the Cincinnati ace when Parra pulled Cueto's 2-2 pitch into the right-field seats for his fifth career leadoff home run, all this season.
In the second, Kubel led off with a single, then Didi Gregorius singled with one out to put runners at first and second. Miley struck out, but Parra walked to load the bases. Willie Bloomquist , hitless in his previous 11 at-bats, singled to bring in two runs and Arizona led 3-0.
In the fourth, Bruce hit Miley's 0-1 pitch far into the seats in right field for his 16th home run to cut it to 3-1.
The Reds tied it in the fifth. Cueto beat out a bunt single, his second hit of the year, moved to second when Shin-Soo Choo walked and scored on Votto's double into the left-field corner.
Choo scored when Brandon Phillips hit the ball sharply to Gregorius at shortstop. Gregorius couldn't make the play and was charged with an error. Phillips was credited with an RBI, and it was 3-all.
Earlier in the fifth, Miley slipped on his follow through, prompting a visit from the trainer. He stayed in the game, for the time being. He threw a whopping 104 pitches in 4 2-3 innings, allowing three runs and five hits with four walks and five strikeouts.
Bloomquist led off the Arizona fifth with a single, then Goldschmidt hit one to the opposite field over the fence in right to put the Diamondbacks back on top for good, 5-3. Miguel Montero followed with a single, then after Cody Ross struck out, Kubel singled and Cueto's night was finished.
Martin Prado 's sacrifice fly off reliever J.J. Hoover made it 6-3. Kubel came home on Hoover's wild pitch, and Arizona got four in the sixth off Partch to lead 11-3.
Votto's solo home run came against Tony Sipp in the seventh.
NOTES: The 11 runs were the second-most allowed by the Reds this season. ... Cueto's outing matched his shortest of the season. ... RHP Zeke Spruill, called up from Triple-A Reno earlier in the day, pitched a scoreless inning of relief in his major league debut. The Diamondbacks designated INF Josh Wilson for assignment. ... On Saturday night, in the series' prime pitching matchup, the Reds send Mike Leake (7-3, 2.64 ERA) to the mound and Arizona goes with Patrick Corbin (9-0, 2.28). Corbin will make his fourth try to go to 10-0 after no-decisions in his last three starts. ... Bruce has homered in six of his last eight games.