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Cueto again leaves with injury; Reds blanked by Rangers, 4-0

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Johnny Cueto is hurting again and headed back to Cincinnati.

Cueto, the Reds’ opening day starter who has already been on the disabled list twice this season, didn’t even finish his first batter in the second inning of a 4-0 loss at Texas on Friday night because of tightness in his right upper back muscle.

“I knew that I wasn’t feeling OK,” Cueto said through an interpreter. “I don’t know how to explain what is happening. It’s the third time it’s happened. I just want to keep working and hope it will get better.”

Cueto (4-2) was making only his third start since missing the first half of June while on the disabled list with a strained right shoulder. That was after the right-hander missed more than a month earlier this season because of a strained right lat.

“It’s the same thing. We’re going to send him back to see the doctor,” manager Dusty Baker said. “We’ll contemplate whatever the roster move is and let you know (Saturday). … It happened in the first inning again. It’s very discouraging for him and for us.”

Cincinnati has lost three games in a row, and six of seven. The Reds have been shut out in consecutive games, and six times this season.

‘’We’re not doing anything. It seems like we’re not putting any ABs together. We get a hit, then we make an easy out,” shortstop Zack Cozart said. “They say hitting’s contagious when you’re going well, but it’s not contagious, too, when everybody’s not hitting.”

Texas went ahead to stay after scoring a first-inning run for the first time in 20 games, since June 7 at Toronto. Elvis Andrus reached on a one-out infield single, stole second base and scored on Adrian Beltre’s single.

Cueto clearly grimaced on at least one pitch to Beltre.

Asked if there was any consideration to not send Cueto out for the second, Baker responded, “The doctor said sometimes things will loosen up, and (Cueto) said he was OK.”

Cueto said he talked to pitching coach Bryan Price after the first inning.

“I wanted to keep going and maybe this will go away,” Cueto said.

But after Cueto threw a 1-2 fastball that Mitch Moreland fouled off leading off the second, catcher Devin Mesoraco went to the mound. Cueto was done for the night.

While Cueto had an early exit, Rangers left-hander Martin Perez (2-1) threw six-hit ball over 6 2-3 innings.

He struck out three.

The 22-year-old Perez was the leading candidate for the No. 5 spot in the Rangers rotation before getting hit by a batted ball and breaking a bone in his forearm during a spring training game. He made a start May 27, but came back up from Triple-A Round Rock last Saturday, when he allowed only two runs in seven innings in a win at St. Louis.

“I just want to continue to do the same job. I don’t want to change my routine,” Perez said. “Throw my changeup, my sinker and my fastball away.”

Perez allowed runs in each of the first two innings at St. Louis last weekend before holding the Cardinals scoreless over his last five innings.

Jason Frasor and Robbie Ross finished off the Rangers’ second shutout in a row and seventh this season.

The Rangers won 2-0 at the New York Yankees on Thursday to cap a 5-1 trip that included a three-game sweep of the Cardinals. Texas has won nine of 11 games since a six-game losing streak.

Moreland took a called third strike on the first pitch thrown by Tony Cingrani, who then needed 37 more pitches to finish the second. He had four walks in the inning, all on full-count pitches.

Jurickson Profar drew a walk before David Murphy singled. Cingrani later walked three consecutive batters, the latter two forcing in runs.

Beltre had a leadoff single in the fifth and scored on a single by Profar, the 20-year-old rookie who had a couple of spectacular defensive plays at shortstop in a game when Andrus was the designated hitter.

Profar went way to his right to backhand Devin Mesoraco’s grounder starting the third, planted his foot in short left field and made a strong throw to get the out at first. An inning later, Profar went up the middle to make another nifty grab and take a hit away from Brandon Phillips.

“Great defense,” Perez said. “It’s amazing.”

Notes: Perez’s only walk came with two outs in the seventh to load the bases. Frasor needed only one pitch to coax an inning-ending grounder by Mesoraco. … Perez turned a comebacker into a double play after the Reds had consecutive singles to start the second. … Phillips had missed both games in Oakland while on paternity leave. He returned to play on his 32nd birthday. … Cingrani allowed three runs over four innings with six walks and three strikeouts. … RHP Mike Leake, the Reds scheduled starter Saturday, is 5-1 his last eight starts.