MILWAUKEE (AP) – Mike Leake overcame some uncharacteristic wildness on the mound and helped himself at the plate.
Leake allowed two runs over six innings and drove in two runs to lead St. Louis to a 6-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday, the Cardinals’ sixth win in seven games.
Leake (3-1) gave up three hits and three walks while striking out six. He scored a run in the third inning and his two-run single capped a three-run fourth when St. Louis took a 4-2 lead.
“I thought he pulled it together when he needed to,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “Those lead walks kind of atypical from what we’ve seen, free bases at all, really, with what he’s done and how well he’s controlled the strike zone.”
In his first three starts, Leake had walked just one in 21 1/3 innings. Two of his walks Sunday resulted in runs.
“It was just one of those days, not being able to completely pinpoint where I wanted it,” Leake said. “But, I was able to at least get what I needed done and get a win.”
The Cardinals took advantage of six walks by Jimmy Nelson (1-1) and an error by the Brewers for their first four runs.
Nelson’s lack of command led to the three runs in the fourth. Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk walked to open the inning. Kolton Wong’s one-out double off the glove of center fielder Keon Broxton on the warning track scored Piscotty. Eric Fryer drew a two-out walk and Leake followed with a single to left-center.
“Walks are always frustrating,” said Nelson, who led the N.L. in walks last season with 86 when he struggled to an 8-16 mark. “I went through a stretch there where I lost some (velocity). I haven’t gone back and watched video of it, so it’s still digesting.”
St. Louis made it 6-2 in the eighth on RBI singles by Fryer and pinch-hitter Matt Adams.
Manny Pina opened the ninth inning for Milwaukee with his first homer and Jonathan Villar added an RBI single.
Nelson, who had walked just three in his first three starts, allowed four runs and five hits in 5 1/3 innings. He is now 0-8 in 10 games, including nine starts, against St. Louis.
“He just got in a bad spot to me for that one inning, with the three walks in that one inning,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “That was the inning that really hurt him. I was proud of how he bounced back. He recovered. We were a really nice play from Keon away from really limiting the damage there. But he came back in the fifth and did a really nice job and he got an out in the sixth for us.”
The Brewers took a 1-0 lead in the first when Eric Thames reached on a fielder’s choice and scored from first on Ryan Braun’s double down the left-field line.
The Cardinals answered with an unearned run in the third. Leake reached with two outs on a fielding error by third baseman Travis Shaw. Dexter Fowler walked and Aledmys Diaz followed with an RBI single to left.
Milwaukee countered in the bottom half on a walk to Villar, a single by Thames and Shaw’s sacrifice fly to make it 2-1.
St. Louis won despite several base-running mistakes. Piscotty was caught stealing in the second, Wong was picked off second base by catcher Pina, and Diaz was picked off first in the seventh.
“It hurts when we’re giving away outs,” Matheny said. “Two of those were aggressive, one was maybe not being aware of the situation as well he should be. Just continuing to teach, continuing to try and clean it up, because whether it’s errors in the field or errors on the bases, it’s something that right now we can’t do and expect to win on a consistent basis.”
CARDS HOMER STREAK SNAPPED
St. Louis snapped a streak in which they hit a home run in 24 straight games at Miller Park dating back to Sept. 5, 2014. It was the longest streak by any team at Miller Park or its predecessor, County Stadium. Wong’s drive to the warning track in straightaway center was the closest to going out.
BOWMAN’S SHUTOUT STREAK
Right-hander Matt Bowman pitched a perfect seventh, extending his scoreless inning streak to 19 2/3 over 20 games dating back to Sept. 6 of last season when he allowed four runs against Pittsburgh. He has pitched 9 2/3 scoreless innings this season in 11 appearances.
Cardinals: CF Fowler and SS Diaz, each held out of the starting lineup on Saturday, returned Sunday. Fowler left Friday’s game with a sore heel, while Diaz had a sore back and shoulder. Diaz hit a pinch-hit tie-breaking solo homer on Saturday, although he did not play in the field.
CARPENTER, MATHENY TOSSED
Cardinals 1B Matt Carpenter and manager Mike Matheny were ejected in the seventh inning by home plate umpire John Tumpane after Carpenter was called out on strikes.
Cardinals: After a day off, the Cardinals return home to open a three-game set against Toronto on Tuesday. RHP Michael Wacha (2-1, 2.41) makes his fourth start. He allowed just one run on four hits in 6 2/3 innings his last time out.
Brewers: RHP Matt Garza is slated to be activated off the DL (right groin strain) and make his first start of the season to open the three-game series at home on Monday against the Reds. Garza is 4-5 with a 4.84 ERA in 14 career starts vs. Cincinnati, including 0-2 last season.
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