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CIN@NYM: Cueto shuts down the Mets over seven innings

NEW YORK -- Reds manager Dusty Baker was aware of what the Mets did in their previous series, a three-game sweep of the Rays, before meeting the Reds this weekend. That just made him even more impressed with Cincinnati's performance the past three days.

With a 3-1 victory on Sunday at Citi Field, the Reds held New York -- which scored 29 runs in three games off the Rays' formidable pitching staff this week -- to just five runs in three games.

"That's baseball," Baker said. "That's something you can't figure out, how they were so hot against a quality pitching staff like the Rays. You come in and get reports on the guys, and who's hot and who's not, and almost everybody's hot. They say good pitching beats good hitting, and we had very good pitching this weekend."

Johnny Cueto was the man behind Cincinnati's sixth consecutive win, striking out a season-high eight batters in seven innings for his team-best 11th quality start of the year. In the three-game sweep, the Reds' rotation notched a 2.14 ERA, and Cueto's ERA over his last four starts is 1.76.

The Reds are a season-high 11 games over .500 (38-27).

Cueto overcame some early dizziness -- the Reds' staff tended to him in the third, giving him some water and medicine before he resumed throwing -- and allowed one run on six hits.

Cueto allowed singles to three consecutive hitters in the second inning before facing Mets starter Chris Young, who drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 1-0. After the troublesome second inning, Cueto had logged 50 pitches. He left after seven innings having thrown 111 total.

The right-hander led off the third with a double for his first career extra-base hit, which he said may have prompted the dizziness later in the inning. Baker and the Cincinnati trainer came out to check on Cueto after he said he was feeling lightheaded, but the hurler stayed in the game and had no further difficulty.

"After I hit that double and got to second, my eyes were blurry and I was dizzy and I felt like I was going to throw up," Cueto said afterward, speaking through translator Tomas Vera. "After that, I relaxed. I felt better and I threw the kind of game I wanted to throw."

The Reds finally scored in the fifth when Zack Cozart laced a two-out double into the left-field corner to start a rally. Wilson Valdez followed with an RBI single up the middle before Young intentionally walked Joey Votto. Brandon Phillips then came through with an RBI single, and right fielder Lucas Duda made a throwing error on the play that allowed Votto to score and run the Cincinnati advantage to 3-1.

"Every time I tried to pull the ball, I kept popping up," said Phillips, who admitted he had trouble facing the 6-foot-10 Young for the first time. "I was like, 'This dude is killing me,' and I was starting to get [annoyed]. So I said, 'Let me go at it and try to focus on hitting the ball the other way.' And I went out there and got a key hit."

Young allowed nine hits and three runs (two earned) in seven innings.

Cueto got out of trouble in the fifth and sixth with double plays, but none prettier than the one Phillips turned coming toward second base to field a ground ball hit by Ike Davis, which he flipped to Cozart to start a 4-6-3 double play in the sixth.

"I'd probably give it an 8 1/2," Phillips said. "A lot of people just said it looked effortless. It's hard to really grade something when it looked like it just naturally happened. But I practice on stuff like that in batting practice. ... It just happened. It's just something that just came natural. I'm glad we made the play."

Jose Arredondo and Sean Marshall (who earned his team-best ninth save) combined to throw two scoreless innings, bringing the bullpen's total to six shutout frames on the weekend.

"We got out-pitched. We got out-hit," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "They've been doing exactly what we've been doing with that outstanding middle of the lineup they have, and they came in and drove in runs."

It was Cincinnati's second consecutive series sweep, after taking three straight from the Indians, who they will meet again on Monday in Cleveland.

"We're having fun," Phillips said. "It's fun winning. That's the fun thing about playing baseball -- getting as many wins as possible."

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