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Associated Press
Reds pitcher Mike Leake gave up just four hits while pitching into the ninth Wednesday.

Starter carries the load for Reds

– With the Cincinnati Reds reeling, Mike Leake knew he had to pitch a strong game.

After a shaky start, the right-hander delivered for his team.

Leake scattered four hits over 8 1/3 innings and Brandon Phillips had three RBI, lifting the Reds to a 6-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday.

Cincinnati put the leadoff runner on base in each of the first seven innings. The Reds snapped a three-game losing streak that had dropped them five games behind St. Louis in the NL Central.

“It would have been a graveyard in here if we didn’t pull this one out,” Leake said.

Leake (8-4) bounced back from a rare rough start in his last outing and seemed to get stronger as the game progressed. He gave up four walks while striking out two.

“It wasn’t the best game I’ve pitched,” he said. “They made me work and they were aggressive towards me. That was one thing that worked to my advantage. I made some pitches when I needed to, to get out of jams. They put some pressure on me.”

Milwaukee starter Johnny Hellweg (0-3) had trouble throwing strikes, was battered for his fourth consecutive appearance and sent back to the minor leagues after the game. The right-hander, who made his major-league debut on June 28, gave up four runs on four hits and five walks in 4 1/3 innings in his third start.

“I think there’s improvement there from the other two starts, but still some things he needs to work on,” Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said.

Leake gave up four runs in just five innings during his last start and gave up a first-inning run to Milwaukee.

“I didn’t think he was going to make it, because they were hitting the ball hard off him,” Reds manager Dusty Manager said.

He then settled down, giving up Sean Halton’s home run and a walk to Jeff Bianchi in the fifth.

“I thought I had a hundred pitches because I had walked four guys,” Leake said.

Leake then retired the next 13 batters.

“I just kind of attacked them and mixed it up a little bit more,” he said.