Postgame extra: Eight over .500

In an 8-2 win over the Pirates, the 28-20 Reds are eight games above .500 for the first time June 30, 2006. They took three of four in a series they were supposed to win. Not downplaying the outcome here but the Reds of the past didn’t always beat the teams they were supposed to beat. They remain in first place, one game up on St. Louis, which beat the Padres.

Again, check out Matt Brown’s story on the site. I’ll be writing the game story again on Friday, in addition to everything else.

The highlights —

*Johnny Cueto had another nice night — six scoreless innings, three hits, two walks, a season-high nine strikeouts. He came out after 101 pitches, in part, because of the blister on his right index finger.

“We got him out of there as a precaution for that blister,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “He had a big lead and it came out fine tonight. He also had a lot of pitches (24) that sixth inning.”

*Like this time last year, Cueto has put together a stunning set of starts the past month. He is 5-0 with a 1.85 ERA over his last six starts, including victories in the last four-straight starts. In five starts from late April to mid-May of last season, he had a 4-0, 1.25 stretch. He was 8-4 with a 2.69 ERA in the first half. Everything fell apart just before the All-Star break as his arm wore down. Cueto didn’t pitch winter ball this past off-season and his conditioning has been strong. He’s eliminated the one really bad inning. It could all equate to being a very good omen for the Reds as the season goes on.

“I’m doing more running outside, better conditioning,” Cueto said with the translation of bullpen coach Juan Lopez. “That’s the reason I’m way better than last year.”

*The Reds and Cueto did not expect the blister to prevent him from making his next start.

*This game was seemingly put to bed within two innings, when the Reds got a 7-0 lead. They sent nine to the plate in both innings.

“That’s huge. You get 3-0 and we batted around before they even got to their fourth or fifth hitter,” Baker said. “You’re assured most of the time that the top of your lineup is going to get five at-bats.”

*Scott Rolen hit a three-run home run to left field in the first, giving him 11 for the season. That equaled his totals for each of the past two seasons.

*Jay Bruce followed Rolen with a homer to right field, his first long ball since April 29. It’s the second time the Reds have had back-to-back homers this season.

“It’s fine. I wasn’t out there saying ‘yes, I hit my first homer of May today,'” Bruce said “It’s not the idea going in. it’s always nice to hit homers, whenever you hit them.”

*With Joey Votto out the last two games, Miguel Cairo has stepped up. Cairo was 3-for-5 with two runs scored and is 7-for-13 over his last three starts since last Thursday.

News —

*Brandon Phillips left after the seventh inning with a cramp in his right hamstring. Phillips was replaced by Drew Sutton, who went 0-for-1 with a strikeout.

*Aroldis Chapman returned to the mound for Triple-A Louisville on Thursday. Against Gwinnett, Chapman threw five scoreless innings with three hits and one walk allowed with seven K’s and two wild pitches while throwing 90 pitches. He left with a 4-0 lead,

More quotes —

“Two years ago today, I got called up. Last year, I hit two homers on May 27 and this year I hit one. May 27 is a pretty good day. Johnny was pitching too.” — Jay Bruce, who has 48 homers in 257 games since his MLB debut.

“It was kind of painful. The last inning, it kind of burned a little bit. It’s hurting right now.” — Johnny Cueto on his blister.

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