Jay Bruce had two RBIs and scored a run, Shin-Soo Choo drove in a run and scored twice, and the Cincinnati Reds held off the Cubs 6-5 on Friday.
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.
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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.
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.
Devin Mesoraco, Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart also had run-scoring hits to help the Reds hand Carlos Villanueva (1-2) the loss.
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.
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 Cozart's run-scoring single in the eighth against Kameron Loe.
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.