CHICAGO – Johnny Cuetos season just keeps getting better.
Cueto pitched three-hit ball for eight innings, Jay Bruce and Ryan Ludwick homered and the Cincinnati Reds beat the Chicago Cubs 3-0 Sunday.
Cueto (15-6) moved into a tie with New Yorks R.A. Dickey for the NL lead in victories. He retired the Cubs in order in four of the first five innings.
I was feeling really good with all my pitches, Cueto said. I was locating my pitches really well.
Back in the lineup after sitting two games because of a recent slump, Bruce hit a two-run shot into the right-field bleachers in the fifth off Brooks Raley (0-2). Ludwick connected with a drive to left in the sixth.
Aroldis Chapman earned the save for the third game in a row, his 28th of the season. Chapman has converted 20 straight saves and hasnt allowed a run in 21 2/3 innings since blowing a save on June 24.
Hes got a good work ethic, Reds manager Dusty Baker said. He wants it and he concentrates. He has a heck of an idea what hes doing and hes as tough as anybody Ive ever had on my team.
The Reds have won three straight after snapping a season-worst five-game losing streak Friday. Cincinnatis 22-8 record since the All-Star break is best in the majors.
In his second big league start in place of injured right-hander Matt Garza, Raley retired the first 13 Reds. He gave up five hits and three runs over six innings.
Chicago has lost 10 of 11, with seven of those losses by two or fewer runs.
Cueto, a leading NL Cy Young candidate, has given up three runs or fewer in 20 of 24 starts and lowered his ERA to 2.45.
The Cubs put runners on the corners with one out in the sixth, the only time they had a runner reach third base. Cueto escaped the threat by getting Anthony Rizzo on an inning-ending double play.
He was in trouble quite a few times, but got a couple key double plays, Baker said. Johnny got behind quite a bit but he managed to get back into the count which is the sign of a good pitcher that you can get out of trouble. That was a nice shutout for Johnny.