Reds spring a ‘Leake’ in 3-1 win

Published 1:22 am Monday, April 12, 2010

CINCINNATI — Mike Leake worked out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the first. He struggled with his control. He collected two hits at the plate.

This was one wild major league debut.

Leake pitched into the seventh after a rough start, Ramon Hernandez drove in the go-ahead run with a bases-loaded walk and the Cincinnati Reds rallied to beat the Chicago Cubs 3-1 on Sunday.

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“I didn’t have any jitters,” said Leake, who gave up a hit and issued two walks before recording an out. “I was just trying to do too much and I was pulling the ball. Seven walks is a little much.”

Leake became the 21st player since the draft began in 1965 to play in the majors without appearing in a minor league game and first since Xavier Nady with the San Diego Padres in 2000. He also became the first American pitcher to accomplish the feat since Darren Dreifort with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1994.

The 22-year-old right-hander had those seven walks but allowed just one run and four hits over 6 2-3 innings. He also went 2 for 2 at the plate, adding to his collection of milestone balls.

“I should get that seventh-walk ball,” he cracked.

Leake, selected eighth overall, also is the first player from the 2009 draft to make his major league debut.

Manager Dusty Baker was impressed with Leake’s composure after the Cubs loaded the bases in the first. The ex-Arizona State star got Aramis Ramirez to pop up, struck out Marlon Byrd and retired Alfonso Soriano on a flyout to end the threat.

“He started out rough,” Baker said. “He could have been rattled. Those were some big hitters.”

Lee, who drove in Chicago’s only run with an RBI single in the fifth, was impressed.

“He knew what he was doing,” Lee said. “He had a lot of different pitches. He competed. We had him on the ropes, but give him credit. He didn’t fold. He got better.”

The Cubs left 11 runners on base, frustrating manager Lou Piniella.

“We’re not hitting with runners on base,” he said. “We had the bases loaded and the meat part of our lineup coming up, and the kid wiggled out of it.”

The Reds loaded the bases in the eighth inning on two singles and a walk against John Grabow (0-2), and Esmailin Caridad walked Hernandez to force in the go-ahead run. Jonny Gomes followed with a sacrifice fly.

Nick Masset (1-0) pitched a scoreless eighth inning, and Francisco Cordero finished for his second save in two opportunities.

Chicago’s Tom Gorzelanny, acquired from Pittsburgh on July 30th, was sharp in his first start of the season. The left-hander struck out seven in 6 1-3 innings, allowing an unearned run and four hits.

Left fielder Alfonso Soriano’s error helped the Reds tie it in the seventh. With runners on first and second and one out, Soriano dropped Gomes’ fly ball into the corner. That loaded the bases for pinch-hitter Miguel Cairo, whose sharp one-hopper glanced off reliever Sean Marshall for the tying infield single.

NOTES: Leake lined a single to center field with one out in the third for Cincinnati’s first hit and started the sixth with a soft liner up the right-field line. He is the first Reds pitcher to get two hits in his major league debut since Benny Frey on Sept. 18, 1929, against Philadelphia. Leake’s game cap was headed for the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. … The last Reds pitcher to get a hit in his first major league at-bat was Matt Maloney, who singled off Chicago’s Ryan Dempster last June 6th in Cincinnati. … Lee has reached base at least once in each of Chicago’s first six games. … Cubs SS Ryan Theriot was doubtful for Sunday’s game after he pulled a right calf muscle advancing to second on a wild pitch on Saturday. Pregame tests convinced Piniella that Theriot was OK to start the series finale. … Cubs LHP James Russell, son of Cincinnati native and former Reds RHP Jeff Russell, got the final out of the eighth inning.