It was really looking like Mike Leake was going to be taking home a quality, innings-eating start with a hard-luck loss last night. But then in came the cavalry and suddenly he’s got the W in the 4-2 defeat of the Astros.
Leake worked 8.0 innings and allowed just 2 runs (earned) on 7 hits and a walk. That’s not much to give up, but the Reds didn’t manage to muster that many runs until the top of the ninth. Aroldis Chapman pitched an excellent bottom of the ninth: 0 runs, 1 hit, 3 strikeouts. You might even say that Chapman fella is an upgrade over last year’s closer, Fransisco Cordero who, coincidentally, was pitching for the Astros last night in the top of the ninth.
Recent call-up Xavier Paul got the Reds on the board in the sixth by knocking in Brandon Phillips, plus he tacked on the insurance run in the ninth. Paul was 3-for-5 on the night. He’s hitting .375 in his 8 ABs this season.
Drew Stubbs was the big, dramatic hero, though. With one out and Zack Cozart already on first, he hit a home run over the left-field wall to take a 3-2 lead. He went 3-for-4 with a walk, but who’s going to remember anything but that homer?
Also notable: Phillips went 2-for-4 with a walk and a run scored and Jay Bruce drew 3 walks.
The win brings the Reds’ record to 57-40: a beautiful 17 games over .500 if only 2.5 games over the Pirates. They go for the sweep of the Astros tonight in Houston. Homer Bailey (RHP, 9-6, 3.74 ERA) looks pretty good in his matchup against Bud Norris (RHP, 5-8, 5.33 ERA). First pitch at 8:05 p.m.