Reds starter Cueto exits game after eight pitches

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Reds starter Cueto exits game after eight pitches

UPDATE: (7:15 p.m.) -- The Reds announced Johnny Cueto left early because of back spasms.

Game 3 starter Mat Latos began warming up in the bullpen in the second inning.

SAN FRANCISCO Johnny Cueto became Johnny Drama just eight pitches into Game 1 of the NL Division Series Saturday night.

The Reds 19-game winner came off the mound flailing his arm like a rag doll after throwing a strike to Marco Scutaro. He didnt attempt to throw another pitch, as right-handed reliever Sam LeCure entered the game.

And suddenly, the Giants gained a massive advantage in this series pitting two teams that got here because of their unbelievably stable rotations.

Cueto had struck out Angel Pagan on six pitches and appeared to be fine before his second offering to Scutaro. Mat Latos, the Game 3 starter, began stretching his arm in the Reds dugout but at least to escape the first inning, Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker went to his bullpen.

The Reds had planned to bring back Cueto on short rest for Game 4, too. Now it appears theyll turn to Homer Bailey, if necessary. Thats no great shame; Baily threw a no-hitter in his second to last start of the regular season.

No official injury has been announced for Cueto, who appeared to shorten his delivery as if he had a muscle strain in his back or side.

Meanwhile, Matt Cain threw a 1-2-3 top of the first inning, aided by an incredible catch in which first baseman Brandon Belt toppled over the rail and fell into a luxury suite. LeCure preserved the scoreless tie in the bottom of the inning.

Cueto, 26, was 19-9 and ranked third in the NL with a 2.78 ERA while making all 33 starts. he pitched a career-high 217 innings. The Giants and Reds this season are just the eighth and ninth teams in major league history and the first since the 2006 Chicago White Sox to receive at least 30 starts from five different starting pitchers.

Check back for more on Cuetos injury. Once we have more information, well update this story.

Mariners designate former Giants pitcher for assignment

Mariners designate former Giants pitcher for assignment

CHICAGO -- Chris Heston was hopeful a move to a new organization could give his career a jolt. It hasn't worked out that way.

The former Giant was designated for assignment on Wednesday by the Mariners, who earlier acquired an outfielder from the Astros and needed the roster spot. Heston was traded to Seattle at the winter meetings for a player to be named later. The Giants have not yet picked that player off a list the teams agreed to.

Heston had a 3.95 ERA as a starter for the Giants in 2015 and threw a no-hitter at Citi Field, but he had trouble transitioning to relief the next season and dealt with an injury in Triple-A. Needing a roster spot in December, the Giants traded him.

Heston started Sunday for Seattle and gave up six earned runs in three innings. He allowed five earned in two innings in his previous appearance.

Giants notes: Span feeling better, hopes to return to lineup Wednesday

Giants notes: Span feeling better, hopes to return to lineup Wednesday

CHICAGO -- Joe Panik's leadoff homer in the series opener was a jolt, but the Giants are a much more dangerous offense when Denard Span is clicking atop the lineup, a spot ahead of Panik, and they hope to have that duo going Wednesday. Span got treatment all day Tuesday and said he could return to the lineup against Kyle Hendricks. 

"The swelling has gone down," Span said of his sprained left thumb. "The thing to do is to come in tomorrow, test it out, and if it feels good, you strap it on."

Span said an X-ray came back clean, but he didn't grab a bat Tuesday to test the thumb, focusing instead on treatment. He is batting .326 in nine games since coming off the DL. His replacement in center this week, Gorkys Hernandez, was 0-for-3 against Jon Lester, lowering his average to .160. 

--- The main story from the second game of this series: Johnny Cueto is now dealing with a second blister, and you can see the lack of movement on his pitches. The Cubs took advantage. Lester didn't need much help while throwing a 99-pitch complete game in two hours and five minutes. 

"He threw a lot more changeups than we've seen in the past," Buster Posey said. "He's shown it in the past but tonight he had good command of it. It wasn't just a show-me pitch. He used it a lot and threw it to lefties as well.

Posey twice grounded short rollers in front of the plate.

--- Posey's throw to nab Javy Baez on Monday was one of the best of the year, and on Tuesday afternoon, Bruce Bochy said, "If he's given a chance, I don't think there's anyone better in the game." That might be true, but Willson Contreras is threatening to get into the conversation. He threw an 85 mph rocket to second in the fifth to nab Eduardo Nuñez. If you're wondering how Lester -- who flat-out has the yips about throwing to first base and doesn't do it -- has allowed just six stolen bases this season, look no further than his young catcher. Long-term, Contreras is the guy I would expect to compete with Posey for Gold Gloves. 

"Nuney, with his speed, can go," Bochy said. "Their catcher made a great throw. Put it right on the money."

--- From before Tuesday's game, what do the relievers think of the new hidden bullpen at Wrigley? And if you missed the Power Rankings the other day, the records are outdated, but there are updates in here on old friends Matt Duffy, Chris Heston, Tommy Joseph, Adalberto Mejia, Yusmeiro Petit and others. Petit in particular is incredible ... just keeps doing his thing. 

--- This play was made by the shortstop. That's good for the old UZR.