Johnny Cueto would have been better off Friday to hunt scorpions or chase coyotes. And he should have taken his Cincinnati Reds teammates with him.
Trying to trap rattlesnakes, the Arizona Diamondbacks, was an utter mess. It was Death in the Desert, 11-5 — an awful start for an eight-game western swing.
It was Cueto’s second start since coming off the disabled list for the second time this season and judging from past performance his assignment did not have a high difficulty rating.
In his previous six starts against Arizona he had given up seven total runs in 38 innings.
But these aren’t your daddy’s D-Backs. These are the 2013 Arizona Diamondbacks, leaders of the National League West.
They scored only eight runs in three games against the Miami Marlins before the Reds visited the desert, but crushed 15 hits as they assaulted and maimed Cueto, J.J. Hoover and Curtis Partch.
They used Cueto to wipe their cleats — 4 2/3 innings, seven runs, 11 hits, two home runs. The Reds ace was a disgrace. His earned run average exploded from 2.08 to 3.21.
With a tired, weary, injury-strapped and oft-used bullpen, a quick-glimpse appearance by Cueto was the last thing the Reds needed.
The D-Backs grabbed an early 3-0 lead, with leadoff hitter Gerardo Parra starting the bottom of the first with a home run.
But the Reds got all three runs back by the top of the fifth, tying the game, 3-3.
It lasted only until Cueto trudged to the mound for the bottom of the fifth.
Willie Bloomquist started the inning with a single. Power-hitter Paul Goldschmit, hitting .140 over his last 11 games, drove his 18th home run into the seats for a 5-3 lead.
And it didn’t stop there.
Miguel Montero singled and after Cody Ross struck out Jason Kubel singled, ending Cueto’s night.
J.J. Hoover replaced Cueto and he gave up a sacrifice fly and threw a wild pitch to permit another run and a 7-3 deficit.
Curtis Partch, who gave up four runs on the first batter he ever faced in the majors (a grand slam to Matt Holiday of the St. Louis Cardinals. replaced Hoover for the sixth and the mauling continued. He used up 36 pitches in one inning to give up four runs this time, including another home run by Goldschmidt, No. 19.
Joey Votto contributed a single, a double and a home run and Jay Bruce contributed his 150th career home run (sixth in eight games) to the Cincinnati cause, but it was a lost cause.
St. Louis lost, so the Reds remained 3 ½ games behind, but fell to third place, a half-game behind second-place Pittsburgh.