Cueto, just 25 years old, was the league leader as recently as Saturday, when he beat the Rockies and left the mound with a 1.94 ERA. If Cueto throws three innings on Wednesday -- and if he doesn't get knocked around the park -- he'll likely move back to the front of the pack.
Cueto is 2-2 in his last four decisions, but he hasn't seen his ERA rise above 2.27 all season. The right-hander missed all of April with shoulder inflammation, but he's steadily kept bats quiet since his return. Cueto, in fact, has allowed more than three earned runs just once all season.
That anomaly came just two starts ago, when Cueto allowed five runs in an 11-3 loss to Chicago. Cueto has completed at least six innings in 13 of his last 15 starts, and he's allowed just one home run in his last eight outings. Cueto, for the season, is 4-3 with a 2.47 ERA on the road.
The Nationals, winners of three straight games, will counter with Ross Detwiler on Wednesday. Detwiler, the sixth overall pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, will be making his fourth start of the season. The left-hander has completed five innings and taken the loss in two straight outings.
The Reds are four games under .500, and they see their hopes for a second consecutive trip to the postseason flagging with every series loss. Cincinnati is one game better record-wise than Washington, and the Nationals are 17-14 against NL Central teams this season.
Reds: Alonso gets start in left
Yonder Alonso started in left field and went 2-for-4 in Tuesday night's loss, which raised his batting average to .435 in his first 15 games. Alonso, the seventh overall pick in the 2008 Draft, has hit safely in seven of his 15 games after batting .296 in 91 games for Triple-A Louisville.
Alonso, a natural first baseman, has been working out in the outfield due to the presence of reigning Most Valuable Player Joey Votto. Seven of Alonso's first 10 hits have gone for singles, but the rookie has managed to draw three walks and strike out just one time since joining the Reds.
Nationals: Storen records save No. 32
Closer Drew Storen notched his 32nd save of the season on Tuesday night, a total that ranks sixth in the league. Storen, just 24 years old, is the second Washington closer to reach the 30-save plateau, joining former relief ace Chad Cordero, who saved 47 games in 2005 and 37 in 2007.
These two teams will meet again in Cincinnati at the end of the month. ... The Nationals are 11-7 against the Reds since August of 2008. ... Cincinnati catcher Ryan Hanigan is one of just three active players who was born in Washington, D.C. ... The Reds are 10-9 on Wednesdays.