The three stars from a 6-5 Reds win over the Cubs.
No. 3 star: J.J. Hoover — first save of season — Hoover retired only one batter in the game but it was a huge one to get the 27th out. When Aroldis Chapman didn’t have it and gave up three runs, three hits and a walk to turn a four-run lead into a one-run nailbiter, Hoover struck out Darwin Barney to end it.
“It’s too bad Chapman couldn’t finish it off. But I’m glad to step in,” Hoover said. He also have one save in 2012.
No. 2 star: Shin-Soo Choo — 2-for-4, RBI single, double two runs scored — Choo has 13 multi-hit game and has reached in 27 of his 29 games.
No. 1 star: Joey Votto — 2-for-3, two runs, RBI, HB, BB — Votto has a six-game hitting streak ans has reached in 28 of 30 games. He leads the NL with 28 walks.
*As you might read more in my full game story soon on MLB.com, Dusty Baker defended the use of Chapman in a non-save situation in the bottom of the ninth.
“He hadn’t pitched in three days,” Baker said. “If we don’t pitch him, then it’s ‘ok, you’re pitching him too much or you’re not pitching him enough.’” Yeah, he needed work. It was only a four-run game. We have a strong bullpen and Broxton was in there with a four-run game too. There are no excuses or alibis or no one to blame. He just didn’t get them out today. It happens.”
*Chapman threw 32 pitches in the ninth. I don’t think I’m going out on a ledge by predicting he won’t be available on Saturday.
*First-pitch temperature was 41 degrees. The wind chill was 37.
*Four of the Reds’ six RBIs came via two-out hits. Huge.
“The team that gets the two-out hits is usually the team that wins the games,” Baker said. “Those are big, big clutch hits. We had some guys swinging the bat pretty good today. The last time we faced Villanueva, he was pretty tough on us. We got to him pretty early.”
*Mike Leake pitched pretty well, allowing only five singles through his first five innings and no one to reach third base. Anthony Rizzo and Alfonso Soriano’s back-to-back one-out doubles scored one run in the sixth. A bloop hit to short left field by Nate Schierholtz scored Soriano. Leake was lifted following Luis Valbuena’s two-out single. Sam LeCure took over from the bullpen and got the Reds out of the jam with one pitch that induced Darwin Barney’s pop out to second base.
“It was cold out there,” Leake said. “I was just trying to work on my strengths and work down in the zone. The umpire was working well with me on that low ball so it was nice to try and attack that lower half of the zone.”
*Leake is 5-2 with a 3.44 ERA in 12 career starts vs. the Cubs.