Dragons' Cueto turns in rare clunker
By Doug Harris
DAYTON — The language barrier kept Dayton Dragons pitching ace Johnny Cueto, a native of the Dominican Republic, from adequately explaining a rare bad outing.
And manager Billy Gardner Jr., who speaks perfect English, couldn't offer much assistance.
The offense gave Cueto a three-run cushion against the visiting Beloit Snappers on Sunday, but he couldn't close the sale. He was yanked with a 5-4 lead after five innings, having given up eight hits, and the bullpen frittered away the rest of the margin in a 6-5 defeat.
"Cueto just wasn't on. He wasn't making his pitches," Gardner said. "A three-run lead should be enough for him ... but that's how it goes sometimes."
The comet-throwing Cueto, who tossed the franchise's first no-hitter earlier this season, took a 5-1 record and 2.72 ERA into the game. But he couldn't consistently find the plate, walking two and beaning another batter.
Still, he exited with a lead and could have picked up the win, but reliever Jeff Stevens gave up a homer to the first batter he faced. And a defensive lapse by the Dragons (27-30) led to the tie-breaking run in the ninth.
Second baseman Mike DeJesus fielded a slow grounder and tried to get a force out at second, but the throw was high and late. Pinch-runner Tarrence Patterson then scored on a hit-and-run single by Toby Gardenhire.
"We probably should have taken the out (at first) there," Gardner said. "That would have been two outs, and you take your chances from there."
• The Dragons, who have lost eight of 10, sent 10 batters to the plate in the third inning and scored five runs. But they had just one hit after that.
• Dayton turned three double plays, including one in the seventh inning when catcher Chris Denove threw out Gardenhire attempting to steal after a strikeout.
• The Dragons' Jay Bruce, who went into the game leading the Midwest League in extra-base hits with 30, had a triple in three at-bats.