Leake cruises, Cards hit 3 HRs in win over D-backs
By Jenifer Langosch and Steve Gilbert
ST. LOUIS -- Behind seven shutout innings from Mike Leake and three home runs, the Cardinals powered their way past the D-backs, 6-2, on Saturday to even the three-game series at Busch Stadium.
The momentum Leake generated on the last road trip returned home with him, as he rolled off a third straight victory by blanking Arizona on four hits in a deep start the Cardinals desperately needed. After going winless in his first six outings, Leake has allowed two runs in his last 21 innings. He has also made more starts of at least seven innings (four) than anyone else on the Cardinals' staff.
"We needed Mike today," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, whose bullpen had covered nine innings over the previous two days. "He was solid right from the start. He had everything he was looking for, mixing it up, getting ground balls. Guys made real nice plays behind him."
Each of the first three Arizona pitchers to appear was stung by the long ball. Arizona starter Robbie Ray served up a two-run blast to Jedd Gyorko in the second of Ray's five-inning start. Matt Adams later took Jake Barrett deep in the sixth before Yadier Molina punctuated the Cardinals' big offensive day with a two-run shot off Andrew Chafin in the seventh. It marked the seventh time this season the Cardinals have hit at least three homers in a win.
"It was great to get us on the board early and jump ahead," Gyorko said after hitting his first home run since April 24. "I feel after [Friday's] game, we really wanted to jump ahead early as quick as we can, and [with] the way Mike threw the ball today, that's all we needed."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Going the other way: Adams continued his torrid May with his sixth-inning blast, giving him 11 RBIs in 13 games this month. It was also his third opposite-field blast this season. Adams entered the year having hit one opposite-field home run in his first 1,084 Major League at-bats.
"I think the way everything is going right now is the way I want it to be when I'm in the box," said Adams, who had two extra-base hits in the win. "I'm feeling comfortable, and I'm staying on my backside and swinging at good pitches right now." More >
Vanishing offense: After breaking out for 11 runs in Friday's series opener, the D-backs' bats were silent until Rickie Weeks Jr.'s two-run homer off Trevor Rosenthal in the ninth. Arizona managed just four hits heading into the inning. Jean Segura struck out swinging with the bases loaded as the potential tying run.
"His two-seamer was moving a lot -- fastball and his cutter -- and he was making us hit those pitches in the ground," D-backs catcher Welington Castillo said of Leake. "He was keeping the ball down. That's how he got all the ground balls." More >
Yadi goes deep: Molina's seventh-inning home run ended a long-ball drought that extended 232 at-bats to Aug. 19, 2015. He had come close to putting one over the wall a few times earlier in the homestand. Molina didn't hit his first homer last season until June 15.
"He's stung the ball over the last four or five games with nothing to show for it," Matheny said. "Overall, strength looks good. This looks like the kind of hitter we saw before he started having issues with the wrist and thumbs. He's in a good spot."
Giving them a cushion: The D-backs' bullpen was unable to keep things close. Barrett gave up a run in the sixth and Chafin let in three in the seventh. The runs may not have seemed like a big deal at the time, but they would loom large when the D-backs rallied in the ninth.
"That's more of an aberration for us right now," D-backs manager Chip Hale said. "Chafin's been really good, Barrett's obviously been great -- he just hung a split to Adams. Those guys are usually able to get us in the dugout without any damage, but today, it just wasn't going to be that way. You've got to give credit to their hitters."
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Rosenthal's adventurous 34-pitch ninth was his fourth appearance of 30 or more pitches already this season. In 2015, Rosenthal threw 30 pitches in only one of his 68 outings. He allowed his first hits on Saturday since May 7, but he had issued seven walks since then.
WHAT'S NEXT D-backs:Zack Greinke gets the start at 11:15 a.m. MT on Sunday in the series finale with the Cardinals. Greinke is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA on the road this year as opposed to a 6.63 ERA at home.
Cardinals:Jaime Garcia, 5-0 with a 2.94 ERA in six career starts against Arizona, will make another on Sunday, as the Cardinals close out a three-game series against the D-backs. First pitch is scheduled for 1:15 p.m. CT.