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Choo homers twice as Reds blank Marlins

The SportsXchange

MIAMI -- Shin-Soo Choo's bat and Mike Leake's right arm proved to be all the Cincinnati Reds would need against the Miami Marlins on Wednesday night.

Choo went 4-for-5 with two home runs and three runs, Leake pitched 6 2/3 shutout innings, and the Reds won their fifth consecutive game with a 4-0 victory at Marlins Park.

The Marlins, who possess the worst record in the National League at 11-29 and are now losers of four straight, probably wish they could send Choo back to the American League and the Cleveland Indians. In Choo's first season across the state of Ohio with Cincinnati, he's hitting .571 (12-for-21) against Miami.

"He was a little upset about his performance (Tuesday, 0-for-2 with two walks) and he did a little something about it tonight," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He was hitting the ball all over the field, and that was some night."

Added Marlins manager Mike Redmond, who has been on the receiving end of Choo's hot hitting against Miami: "He's tough. He's one of those guys we haven't been able to figure out. We've done a good job of holding the other guys down. He wasn't red hot coming into the series, but we found a way to heat him up."

Both of Choo's homers were solo shots. The first he sent to the opposite field into the Clevelander, Marlins Park's night club in left field next to the visitors' bullpen, in the fourth inning. Two innings later, he pulled one to right that landed in the Marlins' bullpen.

"Opposite field was my approach," said Choo, who recorded the ninth multi-homer game of his career while tying his career high with four hits. "This ballpark's big. Some balls fly, some do not, so I wasn't thinking of hitting homers."

Choo, the National League leader in on-base percentage (.465), also led off the game with a hit. He scored in the inning when Brandon Phillips, who leads the NL with 34 RBIs, doubled off the left-center-field wall.

Leake (3-2) struck out six to earn the win for the Reds (24-16). He gave up nine hits, and he walked one and hit a batter. Eight of the nine hits against him were singles.

"Being a groundball pitcher, you're going to find holes and you're going to give up hits," Leake said. "There are definitely games where that happens. ... They found the right places. They hit it where they ain't."

With news breaking earlier that Reds ace Johnny Cueto would return to the rotation from his strained right lat Monday against the Mets, Baker was asked if Leake needed a game like he had Wednesday to hold on to his starting spot.

"Who's talking about keeping his spot? He's doing better than some of the guys on our staff," Baker said. "I don't understand why it's coming down to Leake and somebody else anyway. Leake's pitched well."

Leake left the game with Marlins rookie left-handed No. 3 hitter Derek Dietrich up in the seventh with runners on first and second and two outs. Lefty Sean Marshall relieved Leake, and after a wild pitch that allowed both runners to advance, he struck out Dietrich to end the threat and preserve Cincinnati's 4-0 lead.

The Marlins also missed out on an opportunity to score in the bottom of the third after Placido Polanco, Dietrich and Marcell Ozuna all reached with two-out hits -- Dietrich and Ozuna keeping theirs in the infield. Justin Ruggiano ended the rally when he flied out to right.

The Marlins, the worst hitting team in baseball with 110 runs scored and a .222 team batting average, were shut out for the seventh time this season. Redmond expressed some frustration postgame in his team's inability to drive in runs. Miami had 11 hits Wednesday but left 12 runners on base.

"We've done it a couple of times. We did it in New York, we had a bunch of hits and no runs," Redmond said. "It's the same story. Somebody has to step up. I'm trying to be patient. I've been patient, but at the end of the day, somebody has to step up and get a hit with guys in scoring position. We had a few guys. When we do, we're just not able to get it done. That's just the bottom line. We have some guys in there that in the past, they've been able to get it done. Right now, they're not."

Marshall, Sam LeCure and Aroldis Chapman preserved the shutout. Chapman ended the game by striking out Dietrich looking with the tying run on deck. An 87 mph slider capped a 10-pitch at-bat in which seven of the pitches exceeded 100 mph.

Marlins starting pitcher Alex Sanabia (2-6) played damage control in his six-inning start. He was fortunate to give up just four runs on nine hits and three walks. Twice he escaped innings with the bases loaded.

Dietrich, who finished 2-for-5, has hit safely in all five of his major league games.

NOTES: Game No. 40 on the Marlins' schedule marked the first time all season that Redmond ran the same starting lineup (minus the starting pitcher) out on the field for two consecutive games. Miami used 38 different lineups in its previous 39 games. ... Reds 3B Todd Frazier got the night off as Baker attempts to get some of his regulars some rest with Cincinnati playing nine games in nine days -- all on the road. Frazier played in 38 of the team's first 39 games. ... Marlins RF Giancarlo Stanton (strained right hamstring) did some light stretching and throwing on the field before the game. He's still likely out until June as he is yet to begin running. ... Marlins 1B/OF Logan Morrison (knee) could begin a 20-day rehab stint next week. He's expected to play nine innings in his next extended spring training game.
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