For six innings, Edinson Volquez matched Johnny Cueto out for out. He held the Reds to two base runners (one hit, one HBP), he was throwing all of his pitches where he wanted them, he was getting ahead of hitters and staying ahead. In the seventh, he got into some trouble, gave up a couple of runs, and that was the opening that Cueto needed. Tony Watson and Stolmy Pimentel both let the Reds add on a bit in the eighth and ninth, but the Pirates were only able to avoid eighteen consecutive shutout innings at the hands of Cueto with a solo Andrew McCutchen home run in the ninth. Other than that, they didn’t get much of anything going at any point tonight.
It’s hard to put much more into this game than that; Cueto’s clearly got the Bucs’ number right now. For the second straight game, he held them to three hits. Even though they managed to draw some walks and strike out less this time around, they really didn’t come any closer to scoring than they did last Thursday until McCutchen’s home run. Volquez was really excellent again, and McCutchen’s homer was his second opposite field shot in as many games. That’s an awfully good indication that he’s really starting to heat up (it’s a little amusing that anyone was fretting over a “slow” start for him — he came into this game hitting .273/.400/.455 and then built on that with a 2-for-3 night that includes a homer and a walk). In the long run, Volquez pitching well and McCutchen entering one of his unconscious hot streaks will hopefully be more important to the Pirates than a singular loss on a night that Johnny Cueto was awfully difficult to beat.