CINCINNATI (AP) - Stephen Strasburg was ready for the challenge of facing Johnny Cueto. He wasn't expecting to finish second, though.

Cueto outlasted Strasburg in a highly anticipated matchup of young aces and Jay Bruce drove in three runs as the Cincinnati Reds wrapped up an impressive opening home stand by taking two of three games from the Nationals.

Cueto needed 108 pitches to get through six innings, allowing seven hits and three runs. He walked three and struck out six. Aroldis Chapman allowed one hit and had two strikeouts in the ninth for his second save.

Strasburg (1-1) allowed nine hits and six runs with four walks and five strikeouts in 5 1-3 innings. He threw 114 pitches, 73 for strikes. Strasburg allowed nine hits one other time, on June 23, 2010, his rookie season, the Kansas City Royals had nine hits off him but only one run. The Reds parlayed their nine hits into six runs.

In the first inning alone the Reds had more hits than Strasburg allowed in seven innings to the Miami Marlins on opening day.

Xavier Paul reached first base on an infield single. Joey Votto walked. Brandon Phillips loaded the bases with an infield hit. Jay Bruce double to score two runs. Phillips scored on Todd Frazier's groundout.

"Something was going on when I was in the stretch. They seemed to take better swings," Strasburg said. "I have to look at the video and see what I'm doing out there. Some days you're going to give up a lot of singles. They came up with some clutch hits. You have to tip your cap and keep on going."

Kurt Suzuki answered the Reds with a three-run home run off Cueto in the second inning to get the Nationals and Strasburg back in the game. Suzuki also hit two doubles in his four trips to the plate.

The Reds begin their first road trip of the season today with three games in St. Louis.




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