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Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 19, 2018

Leake solves woes as Cards win 8-2

Jul 25, 2017

ST. LOUIS -- As St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny put it, antennae were raised over the recent performance and comments of starter Mike Leake.

After lasting just two innings and giving up seven runs Wednesday night against the Mets in New York, Leake raised some eyebrows when he disclosed that he still hasn’t regained all his weight and strength from a bout with shingles last August.

So Matheny and his coaching staff looked closely Monday night for signs that Leake wasn’t feeling right. They never found any.

Just as Leake’s pitches rarely found the barrel of the Colorado Rockies’ bats.

Tossing seven shutout innings to earn just a second win in his past 10 starts, Leake led St. Louis to an 8-2 win at Busch Stadium.

Leake (7-8) permitted just four hits, all singles. He walked none and fanned six in a 94-pitch outing. Only one runner even made it to scoring position against him, and that was because Trevor Story stole second in the fifth.

“Good stuff, good movement,” Matheny said. “He was putting it where he wanted to. We were continuing to look for signs that he wasn’t rebounding, but that was one of his best games.”

Leake entered the night with a 7.52 career ERA in four starts against Colorado, which had peppered him for 37 hits in 20 1/3 innings. However, a 91 mph fastball that clipped the inside corner to earn a called third strike on Nolan Arenado in the first inning presaged a change of fortunes.

Beginning with that whiff, Leake retired 10 batters in a row, fetching six grounders and allowing just one ball to leave the infield. Two of the four hits he yielded were infield singles.

“The goal today was to attack their weaknesses,” Leake said, “and fortunately, I was able to hit my spots.”

On the other hand, Rockies rookie Antonio Senzatela (10-4) missed the spots he found at will May 26, when he blanked the Cardinals on five hits over eight innings in a 10-0 win.

Leadoff walks to Dexter Fowler and Tommy Pham lit the fuse in the first. A passed ball on Tony Wolters preceded Paul DeJong’s infield single that made it 1-0. Jedd Gyorko’s double-play ball plated Pham.

Senzatela found trouble again in the fourth with one out. Randal Grichuk, hitting with Kolten Wong at second after a double, lined a two-run shot into the St. Louis bullpen in right-center.

It was Grichuk’s 13th blast of the year, his fourth in as many games since being activated from the 10-day disabled list Friday.

“Trusting his swing and managing the strike zone,” Matheny said when asked about Grichuk’s recent success. “Once he gets a better handle on that, which I’m seeing out of him every day, he’s going to cause some damage.”

Senzatela needed 86 pitches to make his way through four innings. He allowed six hits and four runs, walking two and striking out five.

“It was an uphill battle right from the start,” Colorado manager Bud Black said of Senzatela. “He really wasn’t commanding the fastball, and his slider didn’t really come into play tonight, either.”

Pinch hitter Jose Martinez and Pham each cracked solo homers off Chris Rusin in the seventh for a 6-0 lead, Martinez’s sixth of the season and Pham’s 14th.

Pat Valaika pinch-hit a two-run blast in the eighth to put Colorado on the board, his ninth. The Rockies (58-43) got the tying run to the on-deck circle after singles by Charlie Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu, but relievers John Brebbia and Kevin Siegrist kept the tying run from batting.

Wong and pinch hitter Greg Garcia capped the Cardinals’ 12-hit attack with RBI infield singles in the eighth.

St. Louis (48-51) pulled within four games of the idle Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the National League Central.

NOTES: Rockies pitching coach Steve Foster was sent to the hospital during the game after experiencing chest pains. Bullpen coach Darren Holmes filled in for him. Foster is expected to return to the club on Tuesday. ... Colorado 3B Nolan Arenado was named National League Player of the Week Monday. Arenado batted .458 with four homers and 13 RBI over five games, belting three homers Wednesday against San Diego. ... St. Louis 1B Matt Carpenter (quad/dehydration) didn’t play Monday night after departing the Sunday night game at Wrigley Field before the bottom of the second inning. Rookie Luke Voit got the start in his place, batting sixth, and he went 1-for-3 with a walk.


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