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Reds drop opener vs. Mariners behind Leake

Cincinnati starter gives up uncharacteristic home run -- twice

CINCINNATI -- Mike Leake has been every bit of dependable and consistent for the Reds' rotation for much of this season, so a Mariners quick first-inning jolt of offense seemed to stun.

Leake was roughed up early in a 4-2 Reds loss to Seattle that stopped their winning streak at three. Two batters into the game, and only four pitches, he was already trailing.

"They had a good plan," Leake said. "They were aggressive against me. They obviously knew I throw strikes. There were a couple of mistakes that got me."

Brad Miller led off the night with a line drive through the gap in right-center field for the first of his two triples in the game. On the very next pitch, a fastball, Nick Franklin made it 2-0 with a two-run homer to right field.

Just like that, the Reds were in a position of playing catch-up.

"It was a surprise, like, 'Holy cow, they're up, 2-0, already,'" Reds third baseman Todd Frazier said. "Two pitches: 2-0. It kind of took us back a little bit."

Leading off the Mariners' second, Michael Saunders hit an 0-1, hanging changeup into the right-field seats. It was the game's second homer off Leake, who gave up only two homers in all of June.

Saunders' sacrifice fly to left field in the fourth inning stretched Leake's deficit to four runs.

"He wasn't fooling many people tonight," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He had the ball up, and they had a bunch of left-handed hitters, which is indicative of the American League. We had to get Leake out of there before too much damage was done."

Leake, who was pushed back a day by Thursday's rainout that scrubbed a game against the Giants, gave up four earned runs and five hits, including the two home runs, over five innings. He walked one and struck out two.

Entering the game, Leake had a 1.31 ERA (nine earned runs over 62 innings) over his previous nine starts. When the National League All-Star team is announced Saturday, he has an outside chance to be on the roster. Heading into play, Leake was eighth in ERA (2.52), third in road ERA (2.20) and first night-game ERA (1.84).

Friday, which marked the 100th game of Leake's four-season big league career, was the first time he allowed as many as four earned runs since May 8. He had not been held to as few as five innings since June 7.

"It's one game," Leake said. "I've been throwing the ball well so far. Get rid of [Friday's game]."

Former Reds ace Aaron Harang had a nice outing while facing his old team for the first time in Cincinnati since departing after the 2010 season. Harang pitched six innings and allowed two runs and six hits with one walk and four strikeouts.

"I've made many starts on that mound; I got back out there, and it felt like old times," Harang said.

Four of the Reds' hits against Harang came with two outs, including a Frazier double in the second inning. Only one of those, Shin-Soo Choo's RBI double in the fifth inning, scored a run.

"We have to get some two-out hits," Baker said. "We had some action. It's kind of been haunting us all year."

The Reds entered the night ranked last in the Majors this season with a .178 batting average with runners in scoring position and two outs.

Leading off the Reds' sixth, Joey Votto crushed a Harang 1-1 pitch into the center field batters' eye for his 15th homer of the season to make it a two-run game.

It proved to be Cincinnati's final hit of the night. The only other base runner, Xavier Paul, reached second base to lead off in the seventh on first baseman Kendrys Morales' fielding error on a routine grounder. Seattle's bullpen was airtight, with lefty Oliver Perez netting the second save of his career by striking out the side in the ninth.

"It was one of those weird games where you felt like we were going to come back, but it was like, blah," Frazier said.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon.
Read More: Cincinnati Reds, Mike Leake