Padres have no answer for Cueto to open twin bill
Friars manage three hits; Kennedy allows five runs over six frames
CINCINNATI -- The Padres knew what they were getting into in Thursday's Game 1of a split doubleheader against the Reds after Wednesday night's contest was rained out at Great American Ball Park. They were facing one of the National League's best hurlers in Johnny Cueto, and the right-hander shut down San Diego's offense in a complete-game effort as the Padres fell, 5-0.
"I think it's a continuation of what he's done all season," Padres manager Bud Black said of Cueto. "A good mix of pitches; he pitched a very good game."
"I think there have been games where he's been sharper, but he just kept making pitches," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "I don't know what else I can say about Johnny."
San Diego only managed three hits against the right-hander -- who lowered his Major League-leading 1.35 ERA coming into the contest to 1.25 -- and no Padres player reached second base all afternoon, save for Will Venable's advance to second on defensive indifference in the ninth.
Friars starter Ian Kennedy skirted around trouble through the first four innings of the contest, but he couldn't successfully walk the tightrope in the fifth, when with two on and two out, Brandon Phillips lined a three-run homer just over the wall in left-center to put Cincinnati up, 3-0.
Kennedy lamented the homer, but he said it was the at-bat prior to Phillips' that really hurt him, when Skip Schumaker singled to right on a 1-2 pitch that moved Zack Cozart to third with two outs.
"That was a big at-bat to Skip Schumaker," Kennedy said. "Just to get two strikes and leave a pitch inside, and he did a good job of turning on it. That's the one at-bat that I look back at, but all day it felt like a battle."
Kennedy found himself in trouble early and often. The Reds put runners in scoring position against him in each of the first three innings before finally breaking through in the fifth.
"I didn't have my best curveball, didn't have my best changeup, my fastball command even," Kennedy said. "It just felt like a battle from the start. A good team like that, they're gonna somehow scratch out some runs. I managed it early on and just kind of left a couple of pitches over the plate."
Kennedy pitched six innings, yielding a season-high five earned runs on 11 hits while walking one and striking out four. His outing was the worst of his career against Cincinnati, as the right-hander came into the contest with a 3-0 record and a 1.53 ERA in four career appearances against the Reds.
Black echoed what Kennedy said about the two at-bats in the fifth being the most crucial to the outcome of the game.
"I think he had guys on base every inning," Black said of Kennedy. "So he had to work awful hard through the first four, and it looked as though he was gonna be in good shape to get out of it in the fifth with two strikes on Schumaker. He didn't locate a fastball in, and it got hit in the hole. And then to Phillips, he threw a change that didn't quite get down and away, sort of stayed in the middle.
"... The way Cueto was pitching, those two at-bats were what really got us -- getting ahead of Schumaker and then the change that was a little bit elevated to Phillips."
Kennedy said he felt fine, despite not being able to make his start Wednesday due to the rainout. However, he had never been in a situation in which he prepared as if he would start, but was pushed back to the following day.
"It's the first time I've ever had to deal with it," Kennedy said of the rainout scenario. "I've had rain delays before. ... I've been in rain delays here, Chicago and in other places, but I can't remember a time when I was trying to get ready and then had to go the next day. That was an adjustment, but you've still gotta show up the next day and be ready to pitch. I just didn't have that stuff. It was one of those days, I guess."
Cincinnati tacked on two more runs in the sixth, when Cozart hit a two-run single off Kennedy to extend the Reds' lead to 5-0.
One bright spot for San Diego on the afternoon was Seth Smith, who extended his hitting streak to a career-high 10 games with a single off Cueto in the seventh.