LOS ANGELES (AP) - The Cincinnati Reds have assured themselves of a winning West Coast trip, something their starting pitchers have gone to great lengths to achieve.
Johnny Cueto pitched seven sharp innings, Joey Votto hit a tiebreaking single in the eighth and the Reds beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 on Tuesday night. Cincinnati's rotation is 6-1 with a 1.94 ERA over the last nine games.
"It's very tough to do that on the West Coast," Votto said. "Before I was called up, I think we had like half a decade since we had a winning West Coast road trip. We had a couple last year, and this year we've been very competitive - especially against two good teams. "I think the Dodgers are a little underrated, and the Giants are World Series champs. So to be able to split a series in San Francisco and then come here and win the first two is a big deal."
Cueto (4-2) limited the Dodgers to an unearned run and five hits in a reprise of his June 4 matchup with Clayton Kershaw at Cincinnati, where neither got a decision in the Dodgers' 11-8 victory in 11 innings. It was the 100th career start by Cueto, who beat Los Angeles for the first time in five starts.
"Johnny looked great," Votto said. "He pounds the zone and locates his fastball. He's aggressive and he seems fearless. I mean, Matt Kemp's got 20 homers and he's hitting .330, and Johnny's going right after him. That says a lot."
Kemp singled, struck out and grounded into a double play against Cueto after coming in 5 for 9 against him with two homers. The hit came on a blooper over first base and just out of the reach of Votto in the fourth, but Kemp took too wide a turn at first base and was erased in a 3-4-1-6-4-1 rundown.
"Cueto was mixing speeds pretty good and hitting his spots," Dodgers first baseman James Loney said. "He got me on a slider and a changeup. He's a battler and he's got pretty good movement on his pitches."
Logan Ondrusek pitched a scoreless eighth and Francisco Cordero got three outs for his 14th save in 16 chances and the 304th of his career, tying Jeff Montgomery for 19th place. Cordero walked Kemp with one out, then threw over to first base six times before Kemp stole his 16th base of the season and scored on Loney's single.
But pinch-hitter Casey Blake struck out and Rod Barajas popped out with the potential tying run at second. Kershaw allowed a run and four hits over seven innings in his 100th big league appearance and 98th start.
The 23-year-old lefty warmed up for the eighth, but manager Don Mattingly lifted him after the Reds sent up Miguel Cairo to pinch-hit. Cairo greeted Blake Hawksworth (1-2) with a single and advanced on Drew Stubbs' first sacrifice bunt of the season.
He was held at third on Brandon Phillips' sharp single to left, but scored when Votto greeted Scott Elbert with a single on the left-hander's second pitch.
"He was difficult in Cincinnati on me," Votto said. "He's a tough left-hander who's got two good pitches, but I happened to get a good pitch to hit."
Kershaw had given up six runs in each of his previous two starts - both of them no-decisions - after shutting out Florida with a two-hitter for his fourth straight victory. Votto, who hit a three-run homer against Kershaw the last time they faced each other, struck out his first two times up and was 0 for 3 against him.
"I thought he was actually throwing harder tonight than the last time," Votto said.
Scott Rolen, who sat out Monday because of a sore left foot, tied the score 1-all with a fourth-inning double to left after Kershaw walked Jay Bruce with two outs. Bruce tried to score behind Stubbs on the hit, but was thrown out at the plate on a relay from Tony Gwynn Jr. to shortstop Dee Gordon to Barajas. Stubbs was 0 for 12 against Kershaw before his leadoff single.
He drove in the Reds' third run with a ninth-inning single off Mike MacDougal.
"I told him before the game started that we'll give him off tomorrow. And we have a day off Thursday, so I just told him to give me all he had tonight," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "Sometimes these West Coast trips take a lot out of you, and this one has us dragging a little bit."
Jamey Carroll's hard but clean takeout slide at second base enabled the Dodgers to score an unearned run in the first. Gordon led off with a single and Carroll walked before Andre Ethier hit what appeared to be an easy double-play grounder to shortstop Paul Janish. But Carroll upended Phillips, whose hurried relay to first glanced off Votto's glove as the fleet-footed Gordon sped home. The error was Phillips' second this season.
NOTES: Ethier has gone five games (22 at-bats) since his last RBI and 17 games (63 at-bats) since his last home run. ... Brooklyn Dodgers great Don Newcombe, the 1956 Cy Young Award winner and NL MVP, spent his 85th birthday at Chavez Ravine. Also on hand was Reds Hall of Fame 2B Joe Morgan, currently a special adviser to baseball operations for the club. ... Kershaw had a 12-pitch at-bat his first time up, fouling off six 3-2 offerings before lining a single to left-center for his ninth hit of the season. ... Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton, sidelined since May 2 with a bone bruise on his elbow, threw a simulated game.