Into the Redsverse: Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto avoids injury in NLDS

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 06: Manager Duster Baker #12 of the Cincinnati Reds talks to Johnny Cueto #47 of the Cincinnati Reds on the mound in the first inning against the San Francisco Giants during Game One of the National League Division Series at AT&T Park on October 6, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 06: Manager Duster Baker #12 of the Cincinnati Reds talks to Johnny Cueto #47 of the Cincinnati Reds on the mound in the first inning against the San Francisco Giants during Game One of the National League Division Series at AT&T Park on October 6, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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SAN FRANCISCO, CA – JUNE 28: Johnny Cueto #47 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images) /

Reds battle Cardinals in 2012 NLCS

For the first time in team history, the Reds and Cardinals would face off in the playoffs. The NLCS started in Cincinnati with Mat Latos on the mound for Game 1. The first inning was rocky as he gave up a solo home run to Carlos Beltran. The Cardinals almost hit back-to-back homers, but Allen Craig’s blast was robbed by Jay Bruce to end the inning.

Cincinnati stayed off the scoreboard until the fourth inning when Joey Votto hit a two-run double to give the Reds a 2-1 lead. St. Louis regained the lead two innings later when Yadier Molina walked with the bases loaded, followed by an RBI single by David Freese.

With the Cardinals leading 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth inning, Joey Votto singled off closer Jason Motte. Ryan Ludwick blasted an 0-2 pitch over the left field wall for a walk-off two-run home run. The celebration ensued with Ludwick at home plate as Cincinnati took Game 1 with a final score of 4-3.

Game 2 was a back and forth battle with Homer Bailey on the mound. Lance Lynn was pitching for the Cardinals. The lead changed six times before Cincinnati took the lead for good in the bottom of the eighth inning on a solo home run by Jay Bruce. Aroldis Chapman secured the save to give the Reds a 10-9 win and 2-0 series lead.

Game 3 moved to St. Louis where Bronson Arroyo was named starter so Cueto could have an extra day of rest. It wasn’t a good outing for Arroyo. He gave up seven runs in 3.1 innings as the Cardinals won their first game of the series 11-3.

Johnny Cueto started his first game of the NLCS in Game 4 and slowed down the Cardinals offense. Brandon Phillps gave his team all the offense they needed with a three-run home run in the fifth inning. The Reds won the game 3-1 and took a 3-1 series lead.

The Cardinals fought off elimination in Game 5, beating the Reds and Mat Latos 6-4. The series was going back to Cincinnati for the final two games with the Redlegs holding a 3-2 advantage in the series.

Homer Bailey struggled in Game 6 and only lasted four innings. The Cardinals took the lead on a two-run home run by Matt Holiday in the first inning. He hit his second home run of the game in the fourth inning, a three-run home run. Yadier Molia capped off the scoring with a bases-clearing double in the seventh inning. The Cardinals won 8-4, tying the series at 3-3.

For Game 7, Cincinnati turned to its ace. Cueto was up for the task. He threw a complete-game shutout and knocked in a run with a bases-loaded single in the sixth inning. Scott Rolen led the offense with three RBI. The Reds won the game 5-0 to advance to the World Series. Cueto was named NLCS MVP.