Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 9/15/12
Although the Cincinnati Reds are running away with the NL Central, there are some growing concerns for Dusty Baker's club. Their offense is suddenly sputtering, and ace Johnny Cueto seems like he's hit a wall. Cueto tries to avoid losing three straight starts for the first time in three years, while the visiting Reds look to bounce back from one of their worst offensive showings Saturday night against Mark Buehrle and the Miami Marlins. Cincinnati (87-58) mustered three hits and three walks in the series opener Friday, snapping a three-game winning streak with a 4-0 loss. The Reds only had two runners get to second base as they were shut out for the third time, fewest in the NL. "We didn't put any pressure on those guys, which is a little disappointing," losing pitcher Bronson Arroyo said. The Reds still own a double-digit lead over second-place St. Louis with 17 games to play, but there are some areas where they must improve. Cincinnati has been limited to two runs or fewer in six of 10 games after failing to reach the three-run mark just twice in its previous 24. Cleanup hitter Ryan Ludwick and slugger Jay Bruce have been in the middle of this funk, with Ludwick batting .192 in his last seven games while Bruce is mired in an 0-for-17 slump. Cincinnati's rotation has been anchored by Cueto (17-8, 2.71 ERA), a leading candidate for the NL Cy Young Award, but he hasn't been pitching up to his lofty standards lately. After allowing four runs over seven innings in losing to Philadelphia on Sept. 3, Cueto gave up four runs and nine hits in a season low-tying four innings of a 5-1 defeat to Houston on Sunday. He was 3-0 with a 1.93 ERA in his previous four starts, and his 2.48 ERA at the end of August was the best in the NL. He's since dropped to third in that department. "Sometimes you just have a couple of bad outings. That's what it looks like to me," Baker told the Reds' official website. "He's never been this close to 20 (wins) and the Cy Young. There are probably things running through his head. We'll have to have a little sit down conference with him, and get him back to being Johnny Cueto pitching." Questions have been raised about his workload, as his 192 2-3 innings are already a career high, but Cueto insists he's not running out of gas. "I have three more outings," said the right-hander, who hasn't lost three straight starts since July 25-Aug. 4, 2009. "I'm just going to try to keep working hard." Cueto hasn't faced the Marlins (64-81) since Cincinnati's opener April 5, when he gave up three hits in seven innings of a 4-0 win. Buehrle (12-12, 3.74) lost to Cueto in that game after allowing two runs and seven hits in six innings. He is 2-1 with a 1.29 ERA in three career starts against the Reds. The left-hander gave up three runs and five hits in seven innings in Saturday's 7-6, 10-inning loss to Washington. It was the seventh time in Buehrle's last 10 starts the Marlins lost. Greg Dobbs hit his fifth homer Friday as Miami snapped a three-game skid. He's batting .414 with five RBIs in his last eight contests but has just one hit -- a home run -- in seven career at-bats versus Cueto. Manager Ozzie Guillen tweeted a profanity in reference to a reporter following Friday's victory, another blemish in what has been an embarrassing season for the Marlins.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Raiders staying in Oakland for 2016 season

Cavaliers showing trade interest in Kings’ Ben McLemore

Report: Rockets shopping Dwight Howard

Jim Fassel takes issue with Cam Newton's warmup MVP cleats

Report: NFL upholds Vontaze Burfict’s three-game suspension

NFL owners reportedly concerned with Raiders-gang connections in LA

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

T'Wolves getting calls about Rubio ahead of trade deadline

Jarryd Hayne wants to return to NFL

Jones: I ‘scream in my pillow’ being at Super Bowl, not in it

Phil Jackson reportedly does not have opt-out until 2017

Byron Scott: D’Angelo Russell’s immaturity ‘at times’ a problem

Kevin Love: Shoulder injury ‘just a stinger’

Eight most potentially combustible MLB clubhouses

Matt Barnes coyly denies IG post was shot at Derek Fisher

NHLers who should be dealt to contenders before deadline

Robert Kraft compares Tom Brady to Peyton, Eli Manning

WATCH: Markieff Morris appears to flip the bird to heckler

Prediction for each NBA award heading into the All-Star Break

Did Clippers reenact Paul Pierce stabbing during pregame intros?

Kobe Bryant gives LeBron James his game-worn Kobe 11s

Terrell Owens tells Skip Bayless to stop ‘misinforming’ people

8-year-old Panthers fan writes adorable letter to Cam Newton

Donovan McNabb: I did not throw up during Super Bowl loss

Seven teams that must target a quarterback in 2016 NFL draft

Fighter says sex before fight partly to blame for loss

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

QUIZ: Name the winners of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

The NCAAB power rankings

Report: Kings to keep coach George Karl

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Best and worst from Super Bowl 50

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker