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CIN@CHC: Phillips knocks in Cozart for an early lead

CHICAGO -- Mike Leake had only one bad inning Saturday. Unfortunately, after scoring six or more runs in consecutive games, the Reds' offense couldn't get the big hit it need to bail out the right-hander.

Leake got hit hard and often in the second inning, as the Cubs scored four runs and knocked out three consecutive two-out hits in that frame in the Reds' 6-1 loss at Wrigley Field.

The Reds left 10 men on base and went just 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

"They got four or five runs with two-out RBI hits, and usually the team that gets the most of those is the team that wins," manager Dusty Baker said.

The loss was Cincinnati's first in its past three games, snapping the club's first winning streak of the season. It also guaranteed the Reds a losing road trip. They are 3-6 with the finale of their 10-game trek Sunday afternoon.

After scoring four first-inning runs in Friday's series opener, Cincinnati again scored quickly Saturday, when shortstop Zack Cozart led off with a double and scored on a single by second baseman Brandon Phillips.

That, however, would be it for the Reds' offense.

The Cubs tied the game on first baseman Bryan LaHair's sacrifice fly in the bottom half of the inning, and then took control in the second when catcher Steve Clevenger singled and advanced to second on a fielder's choice. While at second, Leake's low pickoff attempt got past Phillips, allowing Clevenger to advance to third.

Cubs center fielder Joe Mather doubled home Clevenger, and after starter Paul Maholm struck out, Chicago rattled off three consecutive two-out run-scoring hits.

"We got some clutch pitching in some situations there and got out of some jams," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "Didn't let bleeding continue, which was good. We got big outs when we had to. That was huge the way our bullpen was set up today."

That was all the damage allowed by Leake, who managed to rebound and pitch three more scoreless innings.

"They know I like to throw strikes and get ahead, and they took advantage of that," Leake (0-2, 6.50 ERA) said. "I just wasn't mixing up enough and I was leaving hittable balls over the plate."

The Reds' biggest threat came in the seventh against Cubs reliever James Russell. Pinch-hitter Todd Frazier led off with a high fly ball to left-center field, which fell to the ground when center fielder Tony Campana lost it in the sun. Cozart followed with a hit to right-center field, which Campana dove for in front of right fielder David DeJesus, who was sliding for it. Although neither player likely would have made the catch, Cincinnati had runners on second and third with no outs.

The Reds were unable to come through, as Drew Stubbs lined out to shortstop, Joey Votto struck out and Phillips flied out to right to end the inning.

"It's not like we didn't have chances. We had chances," Baker said. "The sun, the wind helped us out a couple times. This is how spring goes sometimes. Hot one day, cold the next day. But again, you want opportunities, which we had. We didn't come up with the big hits. That's the difference."

That was one of few scoring opportunities for the Reds, who were held in check by Maholm (1-2, 8.36 ERA). The lefty allowed only four hits and struck out five in six innings while earning his first victory of the season.

After Phillips' RBI single in the first, Maholm retired eight straight, only flirting with danger in the fourth.

Phillips opened the inning by reaching on a fielding error by shortstop Starlin Castro, but he was nabbed at second when Castro redeemed himself with a diving stop of Scott Rolen's grounder up the middle. Chris Heisey doubled, sending Rolen to third, but with two outs, the Cubs intentionally walked catcher Devin Mesoraco to load the bases for Leake. The right-hander promptly swung at the first pitch and sent a soft grounder to third baseman Ian Stewart for the final out.

"He was changing speeds well, getting ahead of hitters with a low-and-away fastball and finished them off with a low-and-away changeup that appeared to be a fastball," Baker said. "I thought we were going to get to him, and they took him out right on time, it looked like, because we were threatening in a couple innings there and just couldn't get that hit."

The Reds complete their road trip with Sunday's series finale, and although Saturday's loss ensures they won't return to Cincinnati from a .500 trip, they can still win their first series since taking two-of-three to open the season in Miami.

"No more pressure, just go out and play," Baker said. "We've got our man going tomorrow, Johnny Cueto, so we feel our chances are good." Comments