CHICAGO -- Cincinnati Reds reliever J.J. Hoover threw just four pitches in the ninth inning, but it was enough to save the day as the Reds shut down a late Chicago Cubs rally for a 6-5 victory on Friday.
Hoover entered with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth after left-handed reliever Aroldis Chapman nearly gave away the game, turning an apparently secure 6-2 Cincinnati lead into a 6-5 nail-biter.
Chapman gave up three straight singles to load the bases with none out in the ninth, walked in a run and gave up a two-out single to Welington Castillo that scored a pair.
When Chapman loaded the bases again with a walk to pinch hitter Cody Ransom, he was pulled for Hoover, the sixth Reds' pitcher of the day.
Hoover struck out Darwin Barney swinging to end the game and secure his first save of the season.
Red starter Mike Leake (2-1) scattered five singles over five efficient innings, but he couldn't get out of the sixth as he gave up back-to-back doubles and the Cubs scored twice.
Both teams struggled with steady rain and wind chills in the upper 30s while the 12 mile-per-hour north winds helped keep balls inside the park.
Cincinnati scored single runs in the first and second innings off Cubs starter Carlos Villanueva.
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 on seven hits. He walked a pair and struck out four.
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 up 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, walking none.
Bowden loaded the bases without yielding a hit in the seventh. Bruce then made it 5-2 as he grounded to Bowden for the second out but drove home Choo in the process.
The Cubs tried to rally in 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 as Zack Cozart singled to shallow left to score Choo off right-handed reliever Kameron Loe.
NOTES: Class A prospect Rock Shoulders was named the Cubs' minor league player of the month for April on Friday after hitting .370 (30-for-81) with the Kane County Cougars, located in suburban Chicago. Double-A Tennessee pitcher Eric Jokisch was top pitcher for April after going 3-1 with a 1.84 ERA in five starts ... Game-time temperatures 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," manager Dale 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 away from the club record 26 set by Tony Perez in 1970 ... Leadoff batter 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.