"I was just trying to go out there and have a little bit better outing than my debut," said Cloyd, who, in contrast, averaged just 4.3 strikeouts per game in the Minors this season. "I felt a lot calmer out there today and a little bit more relaxed. Just go out there and do what I know how to do, and pitch and move the ball around. Obviously, the results came, and I couldn't feel better."
The Phillies have to be pleased with the results Cloyd has delivered so far. The Phillies' 18th-round pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft is now 1-1 with a 2.77 ERA in two starts, after going 15-1 with a 2.26 ERA in the Minors before he was called up.
Cloyd's efforts helped the Phillies earn their eighth win in 11 contests, and moved the club to just five games below the .500 mark. The Phillies were as many as 14 games under .500 right after the All-Star break.
"He was good, real good. Last time out, he was pretty good," said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. "He gave us a quality start last time out, and today he was better. Tremendous command. He changed speeds good. He used all of his pitches, and he wasn't afraid to throw them in any part of the count."
The odds were stacked against Cloyd heading into the game, as he drew the assignment of facing off against Reds ace Johnny Cueto in a day game.
Cueto entered the contest tied for the most wins in the Majors (17), and held an 11-0 record with a 1.61 ERA in 13 day games this season.
But Cloyd matched the National League Cy Young Award candidate frame for frame, helping propel the Phillies to their 14th win in their past 17 games against the Reds.
"He did a lot of different things with the ball," said Jay Bruce, whose solo home run in the second was the only smudge on Cloyd's pitching line. "He missed barrels. He was confident with his pitches. I felt like we saw the ball fairly well. It was just enough here and there to miss the big hit or big inning."
It was a day full of firsts for Cloyd, who also tacked on his first career hit in the fifth inning off Cueto, sending a two-out dribbler up the middle to bring Jimmy Rollins to the plate.
Rollins sent the very next pitch 392 feet to right-center field for a three-run homer to give the Phillies a 3-1 lead.
"I was just trying to do something while I was up there," said Cloyd, who had several family members and friends in attendance. "It was great to get that hit, and Jimmy following it up with that home run, that was huge. Obviously, that was a really good at-bat for me, and it helped out the team a lot. Not only was it my first hit, but it was definitely something that made the game a little bit different."
Justin De Fratus and Phillippe Aumont came on in relief for Cloyd, but not without a slight scare.
Closer Jonathan Papelbon was unavailable after pitching in four of the past six outings and warming up in the other two contests. So the Phillies turned to Aumont to close the game out.
"My knees almost buckled," Aumont said, re-enacting his knee-quivering reaction. "I kind of regrouped and just [did] the same thing I've been doing in [Triple-A] Lehigh -- just keep it simple and throw as many strikes as you can."
Aumont surrendered one run on an RBI single by Bruce, which brought the game-tying run to the plate in the form of NL Rookie of the Year candidate Todd Frazier.
The seven-pitch at-bat ended when Frazier chopped a ball dampened by rain down the third-base line which Aumont fired to first in time to secure the first save of his career.
"It was a good battle," Aumont said. "I grabbed that ball and it was soaked. ... I was just [thinking], 'Get it to [Ryan] Howard. Just get it there. It doesn't matter how you do it, just get it there on time.'"
The Phillies may be hitting their stride just like Aumont's throw -- in time.