CINCINNATI - Finally healthy after a lost season, Johnny Cueto is dominating every time out.
Cueto gave up three hits over eight innings, including two solo homers, and singled home a run on Saturday night, leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 6-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Reds have won two of the first three in the series, leaving Milwaukee with a six-game lead in the NL Central.
Cueto (3-2) gave up homers by Aramis Ramirez and Mark Reynolds and an infield single by Jean Segura. He walked one and struck out 10. The right-hander has allowed only three runs in his last 38 innings.
``He was unbelievable again,'' catcher Brayan Pena said.
Cueto was on the disabled list three times last season, when he made only 11 starts. Everything is coming together for him so far in 2014.
``He's taking his game to an even different level,'' manager Bryan Price said.
Cueto is the first Red to throw at least seven innings in each of his first seven starts in a season since Bucky Walters in 1944. He's the first Red to throw at least eight innings in four straight starts since Jose Rijo in 1990.
``I've said before: He doesn't have the body of an Olympic athlete, but he plays like an Olympian-caliber athlete,'' Price said.
One curiosity with Cueto: He has given up six homers, accounting for seven of the eight runs he has allowed this season. He gave up two homers in a game for the first time this season.
Cueto has already thrown 55 innings. With the injuries last season, he managed only 60 2-3.
``It's really important to be throwing this many innings,'' Cueto said, with assistant trainer Tomas Vera translating. ``I thank God that I'm feeling really strong. I've been working for this.''
The Reds piled up the singles against Yovani Gallardo (2-1), who failed to produce a quality start for the first time this season. Cincinnati had nine singles in Gallardo's six innings, including Cueto's RBI hit in the sixth inning for a 4-2 lead.
``They put the ball on the ground,'' Gallardo said. ``There's nothing I can do after that. It's frustrating when you make a good pitch and something happens. Cueto was a fastball away and he threw the bat out and made contact.''
Ryan Ludwick singled home a run, and Pena drove in two more with a single in a three-run fourth inning. Todd Frazier doubled home a run as the Reds pulled away against the bullpen.
The game matched two of the NL's stingiest pitchers. Cueto got the better of it, leaving his league-leading ERA at 1.31.
Reds leadoff hitter Billy Hamilton was out of the lineup for the second consecutive game because of sprained knuckles on his left hand.
The Brewers' offense has struggled and been in flux for the past week because of slumps and injuries. It took a significant hit on Saturday when Ryan Braun went on the disabled list with a strained right oblique.
Braun had missed the last six games with the injury. He's eligible to return on May 12. Outfielder Logan Schafer, who had been disabled by a strained right hamstring injury, was activated in Braun's spot.
Ramirez and Segura, the shortstop, missed time in the past week because of injuries. Ramirez, bothered by a bad elbow, was in an 0-for-28 slump that matched the longest of his career when he led off the second inning with a homer.
The Reds broke a 12-inning scoreless streak by piling up singles in the fourth. They loaded the bases on hits by Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce, and Frazier was hit by a pitch. Ludwick singled home one run, and Pena drove in two more.
MERRILL - Members of a Northwoods union chapter gathered unique inspiration for a fundraiser - The Beatles.
Merrill-area Local 6 members gathered Wednesday on the Wisconsin flowage to raise money for groups in need of assistance. The union leaders organized boat rides, raffles, barbecues, and contests. The inspiration for the fundraiser came, in part, from the 1965 Beatles single Help!
"I found out it was the anniversary of the 'Help!' release from The Beatles record, and I decided, let's help our community," said Local 6 Vice President Valerie Nelson. "Our membership is very passionate about certain organizations within our community. One being the Lincoln County Humane Society, the local food pantry, and the American Cancer Society."
Gardens need some help with large temperature swings in summer
RHINELANDER - Northwoods heat the past few days forced plants to endure different weather, but you don't need to do extra gardening just because it's hot.
Experts at Hanson's Garden Village in Rhinelander say plants can manage the heat just fine. On hot, sunny days, many plants will wilt, but that doesn't mean they need more water.
"If the soil is moist on a hot day, I wouldn't water more. That's probably more harm. The plant can only take up so much moisture at a time, so I would just hold off on watering," says Sue Hanson, Hanson's Garden Village Co-Owner.
WOODRUFF - Americans will eat about 7 billion hot dogs from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Wednesday, millions of Americans celebrated National Hot Dog day. That was the case in the Northwoods.
Hoggie Doggies Snack Shack is a staple in Woodruff. Their All-American favorite is the Chicago Style Dog.
The owner Judy Rossi has been there for 12 years and says they go through a lot of dogs.
"Last season we went through almost 17,000 hot dogs. This year we're on track for about 18,000," says Rossi. "Statistically we go through about 8 tons of potatoes in a season, which is close to 16,000 pounds for our homemade french fries. Those are some big numbers for this little place."
MADISON - Unemployment is up in all of Wisconsin's largest cities and most counties.
The state Department of Workforce Development reported Wednesday that unemployment rates in June increased in all of the state's 32 largest cities. Unemployment rates went up in 61 of 72 counties and remained unchanged in the other 11.
Wisconsin's monthly unemployment rate in June was 5.7 percent, unchanged from May.
EAGLE RIVER - A new type of foundation could give you a better way to build a home, and the idea for the improvement starts right here in the Northwoods.
Composite Panel Systems in Eagle River builds composite panels for home foundations. Composite means anything made of two or more materials, which includes fiberglass in this case. The company describes the EPITOME Quality Foundation Wall as a revolutionary composite building solution for residential foundations.
The company makes them off site, and then they put them together on location. Composite Panel Systems' Scott Weber says that means a shorter build time compared to concrete foundations.
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