CINCINNATI (AP) — That playoff loss in Pittsburgh last year? Johnny Cueto never thought about it much. So getting a chance to shut out the Pirates in a rematch wasn't any more special.
Not to him, anyway.
Cueto pitched his third career shutout against the team that beat him in the NL wild card game, and Joey Votto hit a two-run homer that led the Cincinnati Reds over the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-0 Wednesday for their first winning series this season.
Cueto (1-2) had his way with the lineup that beat him 6-2 at PNC Park in the playoffs. He limited the Pirates to three hits, didn't walk a batter and struck out a career-high 12 during his first shutout since 2011.
Any extra satisfaction given what happened the last time he faced them?
"I never think too much about those things," Cueto said, with assistant trainer Tomas Vera interpreting. "That was 2013."
And Cueto is starting to look more like a vintage ace.
He started only 11 games last season because of strained muscles by his pitching shoulder. The right-hander has been solid this season but hasn't gotten much help from an offense that scored only one run while he was on the mound during his first three starts.
Cueto didn't need much help on Wednesday, putting the Pirates away with 107 pitches.
"Welcome back, Johnny Cueto," manager Bryan Price said. "He's been great his first three starts, and he was dominant today. It was nice to win our first series. Pittsburgh is a handful."
Several Pirates questioned called third strikes by Quinn Wolcott, a Triple-A umpire called up to the majors. Eight of Cueto's strikeouts were called.
Maybe it didn't mean anything extra to Cueto, but his teammates got some satisfaction from beating the Pirates.
"For us to come together the way we have, especially against the team that beat us in the playoffs, it's a lot of fun," third baseman Todd Frazier said.
After the NL Central rivals combined for 13 homers while splitting the first two games, Votto supplied the one that broke open the deciding game.
Left-hander Francisco Liriano (0-3) opened the game by walking Billy Hamilton, who stole second base and came around on two wild pitches. That was it for scoring until the seventh inning, when Cueto singled and Votto hit his fourth homer in six games. Brayan Pena doubled home a run in the eighth.
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