Struggling to win away from home, the Cincinnati Reds are hoping to change their fortunes by adding to their recent dominance at Wrigley Field.
With three wins away from home, Cincinnati (15-14) is one of the worst road teams in the majors. The Reds haven't helped themselves by hitting .195 with 17 runs in the last nine games, including the first seven of a 10-game trip.
Cincinnati had six hits in a 4-2 loss to St. Louis on Wednesday, and Brandon Phillips was the only player to drive in runs with a solo homer and double.
"Hopefully, we'll regroup in Chicago and come home victorious," manager Dusty Baker told the team's official website. "I'd like a sweep before we get home."
The Reds would appear to have a good chance to salvage their trip as they've won six in a row at Wrigley Field. Cincinnati recorded its only seven-game win streak there June 25, 2002-April 14, 2003.
Cincinnati, though, will face Villanueva (1-1, 2.29 ERA) in the series opener. The right-hander yielded a solo homer, two singles and two walks to the Reds in a career high-tying 8 1-3 innings April 23, but he did not get a decision in a 4-2 road win.
Villanueva had a 1.53 ERA in his first four starts with Chicago before giving up four runs over six innings in Sunday's 6-4 loss in Miami. He's 1-2 with a 2.50 ERA in six starts against the Reds.
The Cubs (11-17) nearly headed into this game having won six of eight, but they allowed four runs in the eighth inning of a 4-2 loss to San Diego on Thursday.
Welington Castillo allowed the tying run to score when he failed to hustle after a passed ball.
"I want to apologize to my teammates for doing that. That's not going to happen anymore," Castillo said.
Chicago will seek to bounce back by recording its sixth win in 23 games against the Reds. Mike Leake will try to help Cincinnati add to that dominance while rebounding from the shortest start of his career.
Leake (1-1, 4.34) lasted three innings and gave up four runs, six hits and three walks in a 6-3 loss in Washington on Saturday.
The right-hander is 0-1 with a 5.11 ERA in his last four starts against Chicago but gave up two runs over seven innings in a 5-4 victory April 22. He's 0-2 with a 4.68 ERA in his last five outings at Wrigley.
Starlin Castro is 12 for 32 (.375) against Leake, his most hits versus any pitcher. Castro singled off him in last month's loss while David DeJesus , 5 for 12 versus Leake, and Nate Schierholtz (5 for 10) each had two hits.
|April 27, 2013||Chris Heisey||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|April 27, 2013||Chris Heisey||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained hamstring|
|April 24, 2013||Manny Parra||15-Day DL||Strained left pectoral muscle|
|April 22, 2013||Jonathan Broxton||Day-to-Day||Bruised right hand|
|April 20, 2013||Zack Cozart||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised right hand|
|April 20, 2013||Ryan Hanigan||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|April 14, 2013||Steve Clevenger||60-Day DL||Left oblique strain|
|April 13, 2013||Steve Clevenger||Day-to-Day||Left oblique injury|
|April 13, 2013||Kyuji Fujikawa||15-Day DL||Strained right forearm|
|March 31, 2013||Darwin Barney||15-Day DL||Left knee laceration|
|March 31, 2013||Scott Baker||60-Day DL||Strained right elbow|
|March 31, 2013||Darwin Barney||15-Day DL||Left knee laceration|
CHICAGO (AP) -- The Cincinnati Reds needed every clutch hit they could manage and almost every arm in their bullpen Friday to hold off the Chicago Cubs .
Jay Bruce had two RBIs and scored a run, Shin-Soo Choo drove in a run and scored twice, and the Reds scored five times when two were out to hold off the Cubs 6-5.
"The team that gets the two-out hits is the team that wins the games," Reds manager Dusty Baker said after the Reds improved to 4-10 on the road. "Those are big, big clutch hits when you get two out.
"We had some guys swing the bat pretty good today."
The Cubs scored three runs in the ninth against Reds closer Aroldis Chapman before reliever J.J. Hoover came on and struck out Darwin Barney with the bases loaded to pick up his first save.
"You kind of train yourself for that as a reliever," Hooever said. "All of these (relievers) can handle that situation. That's what makes us a good staff."
Chapman allowed three straight hits to open the inning, then got two outs before giving up a bases-loaded walk to Nate Schierholtz and a two-run single to Welington Castillo as the Cubs pulled within one. After pinch-hitter Cody Ransom drew a walk to load the bases again, Hoover replaced Chapman and preserved the win by getting Barney on a foul tip.
Baker cited inactivity for Chapman's problems in the ninth.
"He hadn't pitched in three days," Baker said. "If you don't pitch him it's like if you're pitching him too much."
Mike Leake (2-1) gave up two runs and nine hits in 5 2-3 innings, earned his fourth straight decision over the Cubs with help from five relievers.
"It's cold out there but I'm just trying to work on my strikes and work down in the zone," Leake said. "The umpire was working well with me on that low ball. It was nice to try to attack that lower half of the zone."
Devin Mesoraco , Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart also had run-scoring hits to help the Reds hand Carlos Villanueva (1-2) the loss.
"It's impossible to hit all the time - you wish they could and I wish they could," Baker said. "Things go in cycles. I'm just hoping this is an upturn towards how we can play, how we can hit."
Leake cruised into the sixth with a 4-0 lead before giving up a consecutive one-out doubles to Anthony Rizzo and Alfonso Soriano , and an RBI single to Schierholtz. Leake was replaced one out later after giving up a single to Luis Valbuena that put runners at first and third. Reliever Sam Lecure got Barney on a pop up to second base to end the inning.
Trailing 5-2 in the seventh, the Cubs loaded the bases with one out before reliever Sean Marshall struck out Soriano on a 3-2 pitch in the dirt and got Schierholtz to ground out to second.
The Cubs came in last in the majors in batting with runners in scoring position at .167 and had more trouble. A day after going 0 for 7 in such situations against San Diego, the Cubs were 0 for 4 until Soriano's RBI double in the sixth. Still, the Cubs left 12 runners on base.
The rally encouraged manager Dale Sveum even if the Cubs left the winning run on base in the ninth against Hoover.
"We didn't do much in the first eight innings again, though," he said. "We left some guys out there again and obviously they added on a couple there, one they added on without a hit the one inning (seventh). Those are the things that will come back and haunt you at the end of a game."
Cincinnati chased Villanueva with two out in the sixth after RBI doubles by Bruce and Mesoraco for a 4-0 lead. Michael Bowden relieved Villanueva and ended the threat, but Cincinnati tacked on single runs on Bruce's RBI grounder in the seventh against Bowden and Cozart's run-scoring single in the eighth against Kameron Loe .
"In my last two starts, I'm one pitch away from two quality outings," Villanueva said. "You know, 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."
Cincinnati broke on top in the first on Joey Votto 's single and Frazier's run-scoring double to deep center. Xavier Paul led off the second with a double off Villanueva and scored on Choo's two-out single.
NOTES: Sveum said he wants to see injured pitcher Matt Garza get at least three more starts or "close to 100 pitches" in a rehab assignment after suffering a lat strain. Garza is set to pitch Monday for Triple-A Iowa. Svuem also said reliever Kyuji Fujikawa 's rehab effort Sunday in Iowa will be only about 25 pitches. Fujikawa went on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right forearm. ... The Cubs have at least one stolen base in five straight games. ... Reds RHP Johnny Cueto missed his scheduled rehab start at Class AA Pensacola on Friday due to a setback in his recovery from a strained right lat muscle. ... Cincinnati's Tony Cingrani (2-0) opposes Chicago's Jeff Samardzija (1-4) on Saturday.