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Baker defends Leake after another bad start

The Sports Xchange
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Right-hander Mike Leake is going through what a lot of pitchers go through -- a little slump, a bump in the road.

But Leake's struggles are magnified by the fact that left-hander Aroldis Chapman is waiting for a spot in the rotation. The Reds fan base wants Chapman in as soon as possible.

Leake lasted only 3 2/3 innings Friday in a 6-4 loss to the Houston Astros. It was the shortest outing of the year for a Reds starting pitcher. Leake allowed six runs (three earned) on seven hits, walked none and struck out one.

He's 0-3 with a 6.65 ERA. He has struggled in each of his last three starts. Three starts ago, he blew a 5-0 lead and got a no-decision. He has given up eight earned runs on 17 hits in 9 1/3 innings over his last two starts.

Reds manager Dusty Baker gave Leake a vote of confidence, however.

"Everybody can have three bad ones in a row," Baker said. "Don't panic. Mike Leake will be Mike Leake."

The Reds could skip Leake's next turn with Monday's off day.

"The game just ended," Baker said. "How am I supposed to even think about that? Kind of premature to ask me about it. Right now, we haven't thought about it."

Leake, who went 12-9 with a 3.86 ERA last year, said he's physically fine.

"I'm just trying to figure out throwing strikes and what not to throw," Leake said. "I'm just kind of stuck in the middle."

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