|Mesoraco, Hannahan power Reds to 6-0 win over Cubs|
|Thursday, September 12, 2013 12:23 AM|
CINCINNATI — The Reds got power from some unlikely players to complete a 7-3 homestand.
Devin Mesoraco hit his first home run in more than a month and Jack Hannahan added his first career pinch-hit homer as Cincinnati avoided a sweep by the last-place Chicago Cubs with a 6-0 win on Wednesday.
Mesoraco, hitless in his previous 13 at bats, had three to lead the Reds. The homestand included a 3-1 record against St. Louis and three-game sweep of NL West Division-leading Los Angeles.
“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,” Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker said. “Everybody was happy for Hannahan. It was big to get those runs.”
Cincinnati entered the game in third place in the Central, three games behind the division-leading Cardinals and two behind Pittsburgh.
After winning the first two games of the three-game series, the Cubs were in position for their first sweep of the Reds in Cincinnati since May 2001.
Mike Leake (13-6) threw 107 pitches in 5 2-3 innings en route to a career high in wins, despite humid conditions and an 84-degree temperature at game time.
Leake allowed four hits and four walks with six strikeouts. He joined relievers J.J. Hoover, Alfredo Simon, Manny Parra and Sam LeCure to produce Cincinnati’s 16th shutout of the season, four more than last season.
“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.”
Chicago has been shut out 13 times, three fewer than last season.
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 a pitch by Jeff Samardzija 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 off of Samardzija, Hannahan’s first since last July 20 for Cleveland against Baltimore.
Samardzija (8-12) gave up eight hits, six runs and three walks with five strikeouts. He threw 114 pitches, including a wild pitch.
“I didn’t think he threw the ball bad until the three-run homer,” Chicago manager Dale Sveum said. “They had some bloopers and the other homer (by Mesoraco). Other than that, they didn’t have a lot of hard hit balls.”
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. The Cubs continue their longest road trip of the season — 11 games in 11 days — with the first of four games at Pittsburgh. LHP Chris Rusin (2-3) is Chicago’s scheduled starter.