CHICAGO -- On a cold blustery day, Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker was happy to be able to walk away with a victory.
Johnny Cueto threw 6 1/3 strong innings to lead Cincinnati to a 4-3 win over the Chicago Cubs on Sunday in a ragged performance by both teams in tough playing conditions."It's what you call an ugly win, I guess," Baker said. "It was sort of which team played the worst today. We were fortunate enough to come away with the win."
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Cueto (2-0) allowed one earned run, scattering five hits. He struck out seven and lowered his ERA to 1.78 for the season."I felt (good) the whole time today," Cueto said through an interpreter. "I like the way I threw all the pitches because I was aggressive with every single pitch I threw today."Cueto worked around a single, walk and his own error in the third inning, and gave up both of his runs in the fifth, a Cubs rally that included another error and a hit batter."Johnny was great today, until that one inning he kind of lost it," Baker said.That inning was the seventh, when he walked a batter and hit another with a pitch before giving way to Logan Ondrusek, who walked Steve Clevenger to load the bases. Ondrusek recovered to strike out Alfonso Soriano.Aroldis Chapman came on to strike out Ian Stewart looking with a fastball that registered 99 miles per hour on the stadium scoreboard, preserving the lead.Chapman also worked a scoreless eighth, though he did walk his first two batters this season. In 10 1/3 scoreless innings, Chapman has 18 strikeouts while allowing just three hits. Former Cub Sean Marshall pitched the ninth, picking up his third save."It's a good cap to our weekend," Marshall said. "Our team played hard under some tough conditions in Chicago. It's good to win a series and go home on the plane happy."The Reds capitalized on Chicago mistakes to break a 2-2 tie in the sixth. Randy Wells and reliever Scott Maine combined to walk two batters and hit another, while Geovany Soto made two throwing errors on sacrifice bunt attempts.All told, the Reds sent eight batters to the plate in the sixth, scoring two unearned runs without the benefit of a hit."We walked the leadoff guy and everything kind of snowballed," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "They were giving us outs (on bunts) and we didn't get the outs on the bunts."Wells was making his first start of the season in place of Ryan Dempster, who was put on the 15-day disabled list Saturday with a right quad strain. Wells struggled with his command, walking five batters in five innings and throwing just 52 of his 93 pitches for strikes."I wasn't quite as sharp as I'd like to be, but being the first time out it was exciting," Wells said.Wells managed to keep the damage to a minimum, limiting the Reds to two runs and leaving with a no-decision. Rodrigo Lopez (0-1) took the loss in relief.Cincinnati left 13 runners on base, while Chicago stranded 12. The teams combined to leave the bases full five times."You keep putting them out there, something good is going to happen," Baker said. "I tell the guys that pressure busts the pipe."Joey Votto doubled twice, walked twice, scored a run and drove in another to pace the Reds' offense. The slugging first baseman went his 14th straight game without a home run.Castro singled, tripled and scored two runs for the Cubs, extending his hitting streak to 10 games, the sixth streak at least that long in his young career. He has reached base in 55 of his last 56 games."We battled and got on base," Sveum said. "We just couldn't get that big hit."The Reds improved to 7-0 this season when scoring more than three runs. Cincinnati is 0-9 when scoring less than four runs. Runs were hard to come by all weekend, with the temperature in the low 40s and the wind blowing in from the north.
Wells was recalled before the game from Triple-A Iowa, taking the roster spot of Marlon Byrd. The Cubs' starting center fielder was traded to Boston on Saturday for reliever Michael Bowden and a player to be named later. . Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips missed the game because of the lingering left hamstring injury that has caused him to miss six of Cincinnati's last 12 games.