Of all the players on the disabled list, none is more important than Mat Latos. Losing your No. 2 starter can be a disaster.

Unless you have a guy step up like Alfredo Simon has for the Reds.

Simon threw his third straight quality start in Latos' stead Friday to beat the Chicago Cubs 4-1 before a crowd of 28,649 on a sunny, cold day at Wrigley Field. Simon, 2-1, went six-plus innings and allowed one unearned on four hits. He walked two and struck out three.

In 21 innings this year, he's allowed two earned runs on 13 hits.

"I've been extremely impressed," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "I know he was a waiver claim for us. He has been remarkable. He's wanted more opportunity. We've given that to him. It was a good idea that we brought him in camp to start in case we had an injury."

Simon was a waiver pickup before the 2012 season. He's been good in relief -- a 2.78 ERA in 148 innings for the Reds. But if Brett Marshall hadn't gotten hurt in his last spring training start, Simon wouldn't be in the rotation.

The Reds have won three straight and four of five. The Reds have won 16 of 17 at Wrigley and have beaten the Cubs 14 of 18 overall.

"I don't know," Price said when asked about the Wrigley run. "I'd knock on wood if I said anything about that. Anytime you have winning streaks, a lot of things go your way. . . But believe me, we don't come in here and take it for granted we're going to win all the games."

One down note for the Reds: Brandon Phillips left the game with after striking out in the third inning with back spasms. Trainer Paul Lessard and Price came out to check on Phillips after he swung and missed a pitch in the first. Phillips ended up getting a hit and staying in the game.

"We hope that it's not so severe that he can't play (Saturday)," Price said. "We'll find out. He wanted to stay in. I didn't think it was a good idea. On that second at-bat, you could see some discomfort."

As for the offense, the Reds stole five bases, including a key one from catcher Devin Mesoraco, and Billy Hamilton had the big RBI.

The Reds struggled to get anything going early against right-hander Jeff Samardzija. They had three singles through four innings.

Mesoraco led off the fifth with a single. He stole second -- his second career steal. Cozart struck out and Simon grounded out. Hamilton, however, hit a soft liner into left. Junior Lake made a dive at it but came up empty. It went as an RBI double, and the Reds had a 1-0 lead.

Hamilton has struggled at the plate -- he's hitting .176 -- but he's show signs of coming around.