With a dash of flash, Cueto strictly business

Giants starter abandons typical showmanship, but sees familiar results in gem to win No. 10

With a dash of flash, Cueto strictly business

SAN FRANCISCO -- The shoulder shimmy occasionally appeared. Same with the exaggerated swiveling of his back and the quick pitch that would suit a two-minute football offense.

Mostly, however, Giants right-hander Johnny Cueto avoided garnishing his performance with his favorite idiosyncrasies. He simply pitched. As usual, he excelled, contributing significantly to the Giants' 10-1 victory Wedenesday over the Milwaukee Brewers.

Cueto became the third National Leaguer to reach the 10-win level, joining Chicago's Jake Arrieta and Washington's Stephen Strasburg. His numbers glittered, particularly the combination of seven innings pitched, one run allowed, one walk issued and nine strikeouts amassed. But the ordinary-looking methods he usually employed to gather those figures contrasted with the showmanship that he has maintained this year.

Cueto proves you must be ready for anything with a K on a quick pitch

"Today was a perfect day to do it, because we were winning by a lot of runs," Cueto said through his interpreter, Erwin Higueros. "But it just didn't come out. It's something that I improvise as the game goes along."

Make no mistake: Cueto was far from dull. He turned a first-inning pickoff play into entertaining theater, stepping off the mound as Milwaukee's Jonathan Villar broke from first base. Cueto executed the fundamentals by running toward Villar, then tagged him with his glove -- though he still had the ball in his right hand. Instantly recognizing his mistake, Cueto rushed to apply the tag properly.

"He's really fast and a really good runner, but I've got his timing down," Cueto said.

Cueto picks off Villar

Stationed in right field, San Francisco's Gregor Blanco watched with relish as this transpired.

"He makes the game so much fun that it inspires everybody else," Blanco said. "We feed off that."

Cueto certainly has nourished the Giants, who have won five consecutive games to increase their National League West lead to six games over second-place Los Angeles. Meriting co-ace status with Madison Bumgarner, Cueto (10-1) has won seven consecutive decisions. The Giants are 12-2 when he starts.

Cueto also became the first Giant since Jason Schmidt in 2004 to win at least 10 games in his first 14 starts of a season. The others were Billy Pierce (1962), Juan Marichal (1966, '68), Gaylord Perry (1966) and Rick Reuschel (1988-89).

Cueto escapes the jam

Cueto's final act on the field Wednesday captured everything, from his pitching proficiency to his flair for the dramatic. With the Giants leading, 8-1, the game's outcome was not at all in doubt. Yet it was obvious that Cueto was going about his business with Octoberesque intensity as he struck out Villar to strand runners on the corners.

"That's how you have to pitch," Cueto said. "I have to tell myself that it was a tie game. You can't get complacent. These are the big leagues, and every team can come back."

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.