Slugger swats HR, RBI double while righty whiffs 10 in impressive win
By Curt Hogg
MILWAUKEE -- The All-Star break will be even sweeter for two Cardinals who snapped skids in a 5-1 win over the Brewers on Sunday at Miller Park.
First baseman Matt Adams broke out of an 0-for-27 funk with a towering solo homer in the second inning and padded the St. Louis lead with an RBI double in the ninth to aid starter Mike Leake, who threw seven frames of one-run ball to pick up the win after dropping three consecutive starts.
Adams was hitting .338 on June 9, but saw his average dip to .262 and his OPS submarine 212 points to .765. He had not had a hit since June 28 against Kansas City and had only drawn one walk in that span.
"Even through the little scuffle, I felt that I was squaring up some balls and just hitting them hard right at them," Adams said. "But I was swinging at balls I normally don't swing at, and the last couple of days, I felt I was able to manage the strike zone a little bit better and get better pitches to swing at."
Adams' homer traveled 455 feet per Statcast™ and landed deep in the second deck. It was his 10th dinger and first since June 14. He followed that with three swinging strikeouts, but made amends by roping a double to score Jhonny Peralta.
"That was just a monster shot that he had at the beginning," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "Then set him up with a couple strikeouts just to get another big hit late. He's an exciting player when he puts it all together, and those were a couple of big hits that we needed in a big win."
Leake had surrendered five earned runs in six innings Tuesday against the Pirates. On June 25, he lasted only 3 1/3 innings, giving up five runs (four earned) with only one strikeout.
However, Leake relied on a sweeping slider to baffle the Brewers' bats. The right-hander struck out a season-high 10 and scattered six hits while lowering his first-half ERA to 4.14.
"I felt like it was a feeling I haven't had in a while," Leake said. "I think it's definitely something that came out of the blue a little bit today, and I hope to build from it."
Leake was at his most impressive as an escape artist in the third and seventh. He allowed a leadoff double to opposing pitcher Junior Guerra to open the third, followed by a bunt single by Jonathan Villar. Leake buckled in, fooling Scooter Gennett for a swinging strikeout, then picked Villar off of first base and wiggled out of the jam with a strikeout looking on Ryan Braun.
In the seventh, Chris Carter hit a leadoff triple to right field, but Leake once again emerged unscathed by inducing a weak lineout, a strikeout and a grounder.
"He turned it up right there with the lead triple," Matheny said. "In a close game and he found another gear. The really good ones to that, and today he was really good."
Curt Hogg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Milwaukee. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.