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Reds' Hoover cleans up mess in ninth

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- Reliever J.J. Hoover says he was simply doing his job when he saved the day for the Cincinnati Reds on Friday.

Hoover entered a perilous situation with two outs in the ninth and the bases full of Chicago Cubs after Cincinnati's seemingly secure 6-2 lead dwindled to one run.

But Hoover just needed four pitches to wrap things up, striking out Chicago second baseman Darwin Barney to presrve the Reds' 6-5 victory.

"You train yourself as a reliever for this kind of situation and that's what makes us a good staff," said Hoover, who picked up his first save this season and hasn't allowed a run in his last eight appearances. "I was hoping Chapman could finish it up, but I was glad to step up."

Left-handed reliever Aroldis Chapman nearly gave away the game, allowing three straight singles to load the bases with none out in the ninth, walking in a run and giving up a two-out single to Welington Castillo that scored two.

When Champan loaded the bases again with a walk to pinch-hitter Cody Ransom, he was pulled for Hoover, the sixth Reds pitcher of the day.

But Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker couldn't fault Chapman, normally a top closer.

"It wasn't a control problem," Baker said. "He just had a control problem on one hitter who walked in the one run. ... Sometimes you get hit. It's not always a control thing. Sometimes you have got to give the hitters credit."

As has been the case in several games this season, the Cubs' run production was silent early and then perked up late.

"We didn't do much in the eight innings again," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "We left some guys out there again. ... Those are the things that come back and haunt you at the end of a game."

Reds starter Mike Leake (2-1) scattered five singles in five innings but couldn't get out of the sixth as he gave up back-to-back doubles and the Cubs scored twice.

Cincinnati scored single runs in the first and second off Cubs starter Carlos Villanueva on a cold, rainy afternoon.

Joey Votto, who went 2 for 3 with two runs scored and an RBI, singled to right with two out in the first and scored on Todd Frazier's double to deep center.

In the second, Xavier Paul led off with a double and Shin-Soo Choo singled him home with two gone.

The Reds extended the lead to 4-0 in the sixth when Jay Bruce doubled to the right-field corner, scoring Votto with one out. Devin Mesoraco's two-out double then brought home Bruce.

Villanueva (1-2) was pulled after he walked Cesar Izturis to leave runners at first and second. Michael Bowden entered in relief and got Leake to pop up to second.

Villanueva worked 5 2/3 innings and gave up four earned runs and seven hits. He walked a pair and struck out four.

"In my last two starts, I'm one pitch away from having two quality outings," Villanueva said. "The good part is I'm close to where I want to be. I'm just not putting that guy away when I need to."

The Cubs halved the deficit in the sixth.

Anthony Rizzo doubled to the left-field corner -- Chicago's first extra-base hit -- and Alfonso Soriano followed with an RBI double into the same spot to put the Cubs on the board.

Nate Schierholtz's bloop single to left scored Soriano. Luis Valbuena's single down the right-field line sent Schierholtz to third and knocked Leake out of the game.

Reliever Sam LeCure got Barney to pop out to second to end the threat.

Leake worked 5 2/3 innings and gave up nine hits and two earned runs. He struck out three and walked none.

Bowden loaded the bases without yielding a hit in the seventh. Bruce then made it 5-2 when he grounded to Bowden for the second out but drove home Choo in the process.

The Cubs tried to rally in the bottom of the seventh, loading the bases with one out. But Sean Marshall -- the Reds' third reliever of the day -- got Soriano to strike out and Schierholtz to ground out to second.

Cincinnati made it 6-2 in the eighth when Zack Cozart singled to shallow left to score Choo off right-handed reliever Kameron Loe.

NOTES: The game-time temperature hovered around 41 degrees with winds from the north, but Wrigley Field conditions are sure to eventually improve. "We get past this time and the weather's awesome and it's a really cool place to play," Sveum said. ... Right-hander Matt Garza is likely to make three more starts at Triple-A Iowa before returning to the Cubs. He remains on the 15-day disabled list with elbow and lat injuries and has yet to make a Cubs appearance. ... Friday's game was the Reds' eighth of an 11-day, 10-game road trip that has included stops in Washington (1-3) and St. Louis (1-2). ... Brandon Phillips closed April with 24 RBIs, two from the club record of 26 set by Tony Perez in 1970. ... Choo was hit by a pitch 10 times in April to led the majors and break a club record set in 1916. ... Bench coach Chris Speier is coaching third base while Mark Berry receives treatment for throat cancer.
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