Chicago, IL – Jay Bruce hit a two-run double and Zack Cozart had an eighth inning RBI single which proved to be the difference, as the Cincinnati Reds escaped with a 6-5 victory over the Chicago Cubs Friday in the opener of a three-game set at Wrigley Field.
Joey Votto had two hits and scored twice and Shin-Soo Choo and Todd Frazier each added an RBI for the Reds, who have won their last seven games at the Cubs' historic home park.
Starter Mike Leake (2-1) lasted 5 2/3 innings and gave up two runs on nine hits and struck out three.
Welington Castillo drove in two as part of a three-run ninth inning rally for the Cubs, who have dropped three of four. Carlos Villanueva (1-2) picked up the loss after yielding four runs on seven hits while striking out four over 5 2/3 innings.
Trailing 6-2 entering the bottom of the ninth, Chicago made things interesting. Cincinnati closer Aroldis Chapman served up three consecutive singles to load the bases, but then retired the next two batters. Pinch-hitter Scott Hairston drew a walk to make it 6-3 and Castillo poked a single to center to score two more runs and make it a one-run game.
Chapman stayed in with runners on first and second, but pinch-hitter Cody Ransom drew a walk, forcing Chapman out of the contest. J.J. Hoover, though, took the hill and closed the door, striking out Darwin Barney to secure the win and earn his first save of the season.
"Hopefully we can learn from that too," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of his team's late rally. "Instead of waiting till the guy throws 98, they need to make those adjustments when the guy is throwing 94. Those were some really, really great at-bats."
The visitors plated one run in the first and second inning -- both of which came with two outs. In the first, Votto scored on Frazier's double to center. In the second, Choo hit an RBI single up the middle, scoring Xavier Paul.
Villanueva looked to settle down over the next three-plus innings and retired 10 straight Cubs batters at one point. In the sixth, though, Votto hit a leadoff single and after a Frazier fly out, Bruce smacked a liner down the right-field line, plating Votto from first to make it 3-0.
Bruce later advanced to third on a groundout and Devin Mesoraco brought him home with a double to left to give the Reds a 4-0 lead.
"It's impossible to hit all the time," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "You wish you could. I wish they could. But things go in cycles. I just hope this is an upturn towards how we can play and how we can hit."
The Cubs finally got to Leake in the bottom of the frame. Anthony Rizzo clubbed a one-out double then scored on Alfonso Soriano's own two-bagger. Nate Schierholtz then made it 4-2 with a single.
Cincinnati added another run in the seventh. Frazier walked to load the bases with one down and Bruce hit a sharp liner off reliever Michael Bowden and was thrown out, but Choo scored on the play.
Chicago treated in the eighth, loading the bases with one out, but reliever Sean Marshall prevailed. The lefty retired the next two batters with a strikeout and a groundout, respectively, to escape the frame.
Cozart's two-out RBI single in the eighth looked to only add to the advantage, but proved to be vital.
"It just so happens that today was one of those days that those extra runs paid off," Votto said. "Thankfully, they did. But in the future, we don't expect any of those type of runs."
The Reds matched their franchise record with seven straight road victories in the series versus the Cubs ... Cincinnati last won seven straight at Wrigley from June 25, 2002-April 14, 2003 ... Temperature at first pitch was 41 degrees.