Win the first game, Reds manager Dusty Baker told Johnny Cueto.

It wasn't a wish or a command, rather a "just do it."

And Cueto (16-6) did, retiring 22 of 24 batters after giving up a two-run homer to the Cubs' Alfonso Soriano in the first inning Saturday.

Cueto's gutty effort allowed the Reds to beat the Cubs 5-3 in the first game of a day-night doubleheader at Great American Ball Park.

Such is the stuff of which unexpectedly big years are made.

Remember the way Jose Rijo pitched down the stretch for the 1990 Reds? Cueto is channeling his fellow Dominican right now.

"He's getting better and better," said Baker of Cueto. "He has to be in serious contention for the Cy Young. We don't talk about it, but I'm sure it has to be in the back of his mind, especially after not making the All-Star team."

Cueto said he hasn't thought about the Cy Young.

"There's a lot more baseball to go," Cueto said.

After the Cubs' two-run first, third baseman Todd Frazier stopped by Cueto's spot in the dugout.

"Johnny, that's it," Frazier told him. 'You gave up two, and that's it."

"Yeah, definitely," Cueto responded.

"I'm a human being," Cueto said after the game. "They're gonna hit me no matter what. When (Soriano) did that, when he hit that home run, I said, "OK, that's it. I'm going to keep throwing."'