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MIL@CIN: Cueto K's nine, allows one run in 12th win

In a historical display of rotational fortitude, the Reds have used the same five starting pitchers for the entire season, a span that will stretch to 105 games when Johnny Cueto takes the hill for Thursday's series finale with the Padres.

Cueto is matched up against Padres starter Ross Ohlendorf, who became San Diego's 13th different starter when he made his first start for the Padres on June 16.

The Padres have battled injury and inconsistency from their starters throughout the season, but Ohlendorf has been solid of late, turning in three straight quality outings for the first time since 2010. His consistent performance has allowed the rotation to stabilize a bit.

After using those thirteen different arms in the first three months of the season, the Padres have used the same five starters since July 3.

That relative stability, combined with a stronger offensive output, has San Diego playing a brand of baseball that manager Bud Black believes is entirely different than their first-half product.

"The continuity of the team has mostly stayed intact," Black said. "Early in the season, we lost games and didn't get beat. Now, I think we are beating other teams. That is a sign of better play."

The Padres will have their work cut out for them if they're going to beat Cueto on Thursday, particularly because of the 12:35 pm ET start time, as Cueto leads the National League in day game ERA (1.36).

But day or night, Cueto has been brilliant. The 26-year-old is fourth in the NL in overall ERA (2.39), tied for second in wins (13) and home ERA. He also boasts the Majors' best ERA over the past two seasons (2.35).

Cueto tallied his career-high 13th win last Saturday against Colorado, and has given up one or fewer runs in more than half (11 of 21) of his starts -- numbers that should begin to warrant Cueto serious Cy Young consideration as the stretch run unfolds. Just ask his teammate Ryan Ludwick.

"He is pretty good. Really good," Ludwick said. "If he's not the Cy Young talk now, there is something wrong. Cy Cueto."

Padres: Rodriguez may make debut

Rookie catcher Eddy Rodriguez, recalled by the Padres from Class A Lake Elsinore on Tuesday to replace the injured Yasmani Grandal, may make his Major League debut on Thursday.

Black suggested that Thursday's afternoon game, following Wednesday's night game, might be a perfect time to give newly-anointed starting catcher John Baker a day off, which would open up the chance for Rodriguez, 26, to see his first Major League action.

Rodriguez was drafted by the Reds in 2005, and has battled his way through Independent League teams and the Minors since 2006, before signing a Minor League deal with the Padres before the 2011 season.

"Baseball has its way of working things out," Rodriguez said of his long-awaited call-up.

Reds: Mesoraco making his appeal
Reds rookie catcher Devin Mesoraco is appealing a three-game suspension given him by Major League Baseball for making contact with home plate umpire Chad Fairchild during Monday's game against the Padres.

Mesoraco, who was hitting .221 with five homers in 46 games, was also placed on the seven-day DL Wednesday with a concussion sustained in a collision at home plate with Cameron Maybin on Monday, though he was in the starting lineup Tuesday before having to leave the game.

The Reds purchased the contract of catcher Dioner Navarro from Triple-A Louisville to fill the void left by Mesoraco's concussion and potential suspension.

Worth noting
• Newly-acquired Reds reliever Jonathan Broxton made his Cincinnati debut in his team's Wednesday win. Broxton worked a scoreless eighth, striking out one.

• Padres third baseman Chase Headley is certainly making his front office look good for holding on to him at the trade deadline. Headley is 3 for 8 with four RBI in two games after the deadline.

• Reds outfielder Ryan Ludwick is killing his former team with 10 RBIs in the first three games of the series. He is 8-for-19 (.421) on the season with three homers against the Padres. Ludwick played for the Padres in 2011.

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