CINCINNATI - Mike Leake pitched 5 2/3 shutout innings for his career-high 13th win and the Reds finally provided some run support to beat the Chicago Cubs, 6-0, Wednesday afternoon at Great American Ball Park.
The Reds avoided a Cubs’ sweep after losing the first two games by a combined score of 11-1.
Devin Mesoraco homered in the fourth and went 3-for-4 to break an 0-for-13 slump, and pinch-hitter Jack Hannahan hit a three-run homer in the sixth. It was Hannahan's first homer of the season and the first pinch-hit homer of his career.
Reds relievers J.J. Hoover, Alfredo Simon, Manny Parra and Sam LeCure completed a six-hit shutout.
Leake (13-6) gave up four hits and four walks and struck out six.
"I didn't have my best stuff," Leake said. "Sometimes you have a few games where a couple of pitches beat you. I was able to make pitches and it worked out."
Leake appeared to be the odd man out when spring training started. The Reds were grooming Aroldis Chapman for a job in the starting rotation. They changed their minds and Leake has prospered.
"It's an accomplishment," said Leake of his 13 wins. "You can't plan how your season is going to go. The winds have blown me in the right direction."
The third-place Reds (83-64) are two games behind second-place Pittsburgh, which beat Texas Wednesday afternoon, and 2 1/2 behind first-place St. Louis going into the Cardinals' game with Milwaukee Wednesday night.
Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija (8-12) gave up both homers and all of the Reds' runs in his 5 2/3 innings. He gave up eight hits and three walks and struck out five.
The Reds used small ball in the second for a 2-0 lead. Jay Bruce led off with a single and went to third on Todd Frazier's softly lined single down the left field line. Both players scored on RBI groundouts to second by Xavier Paul and Zack Cozart, who went 0-for-4 and ended his career-high hitting streak at 15 games.
Mesoraco added his ninth homer in the fourth, a one-out solo shot off that sailed 429 feet into the first row of the second deck in left field. The homer was Mesoraco's first in 25 games since he hit two against St. Louis on Aug. 3.
The Reds broke it open in the sixth on Hannahan's 402-foot, three-run homer into the right field seats. It was Hannahan's first since last July 20 for Cleveland against Baltimore.
"It felt like I got the monkey off my back," Hannahan said. "The last two years, I hit home runs on opening day. It was huge."
Hannahan didn't get many pinch-hit opportunities in the American League.
"This is all new to me," he said.
The hit turned a close game into a rout.
"It wasn't easy," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "Everybody was happy for Hannahan. It was big to get those runs."
Notes: Reds RHP Johnny Cueto threw 60 pitches to live batters Wednesday in the second simulated game of his comeback from a strained muscle below his right shoulder. Neither Cueto, on the disabled list since June 29, nor manager Dusty Baker knew immediately after the session what his next step will be. Cueto says he feels "good and "ready." ... Baker wasn't sure whether LHP Tony Cingrani would go with the Reds on their road trip or stay behind for physical therapy. Cingrani left Tuesday's start in the second inning after aggravating the back problem that sent him to the disabled list from Aug. 25 to Sept. 5. ... The Reds are off Thursday.
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