Johnny Cueto’s second rehab start came at just the right time for the Dayton Dragons.
Last-place Dayton (13-24) needed a boost after a four-game losing streak and got it as the Reds ace Cueto threw five scoreless innings in a 6-2 victory over the West Michigan Whitecaps on Tuesday at Fifth Third Field.
“With Johnny pitching, having a guy around who was part of the Dayton Dragons, it’s spirit-lifting,” Dragons manager Jose Nieves said. “You don’t see him losing composure on the mound. It’s a reflection of what they will taste when they get to the major leagues. The last time he pitched here, we played well, too.”
Dayton’s last two wins have come with Cueto on the mound. He pitched three innings Thursday in a 9-6 win over Lansing. In between that game and this game, they lost 7-4 to Lansing and were swept 5-3, 13-7 and 5-4 by Fort Wayne, dropping them 11½ games back of first-place South Bend in the Midwest League Eastern Division through Monday.
Cueto’s performance (three hits, no walks, four strikeouts) helped boost Dayton’s fortunes, but the hitters did their part as well.
Robert Ramirez opened the scoring with a home run, his second of the season in the fifth. He went 2-for-4. In the previous 10 games, he hit .343, raising his average from .194 to .245.
“Robert has been swinging the bat pretty good lately,” Nieves said. “He feels more comfortable at the plate. He’s got better rhythm. At the beginning, I don’t know if it was a weather factor. It was kind cold. Right now it’s kind of warm.”
Jesse Winker also homered, tying him with Junior Arias for the team lead with four. Winker went 2-for-4 and also doubled. He’s now hitting .303.
Joe Hudson went 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
Jesus Adames pitched two scoreless innings after Cueto left. The Whitecaps (15-20) didn’t score until the ninth.