Cincinnati starting pitcher Johnny Cueto walks to the dugout with back… (John G. Mabanglo / EPA )
Johnny Cueto had thrown only eight pitches in the Cincinnati Reds' National League division series opener against the San Francisco Giants when back spasms forced him to leave the game.
The Reds ace, who went 19-9 this season, had the shortest postseason start since Atlanta's John Thomson threw four pitches in Game 3 of the 2004 NL division series before leaving with a sore muscle in his left side.
Like Thomson, Cueto retired one batter before leaving the game. He appeared to have possibly aggravated something while stopping in mid-motion when batter Angel Pagan called timeout during his at-bat.
Still, Cueto struck out Pagan but then pulled up lame on the second pitch to Marco Scutaro. He was replaced by reliever Sam LeCure, who pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings.
Scheduled Game 3 starter Mat Latos then took over and also held the Giants scoreless until giving up a leadoff home run to San Francisco's Buster Posey in the sixth inning.
Cincinnati wound up winning the game, 5-2, for its first postseason win in eight tries since 1995. But it used six pitchers in the process, which could prove to be a problem, particularly if Cueto can't take Latos' spot in Game 3. Cueto is listed as day to day.
The Reds have had extraordinary luck with the health of their starting five pitchers this season. The only time they needed a sixth starter was when Todd Redmond started the back end of a doubleheader.
Cueto is still in search of his first postseason victory after losing his only other start in 2010, when the Reds fell to the Phillies, 2-0, in Game 3 of their division series.
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