ATLANTA — Mike Leake had such command of his fastball and cutter that he rarely needed to throw his secondary pitches against the Atlanta Braves.
“I thought I was doing a good job mixing and matching,” he said. “That was making it a little bit easier.”
Leake won his fourth straight decision, Matt Carpenter and Matt Adams homered and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Braves 5-3 on Saturday night.
Aledmys Diaz went 3 for 4 and drove in two runs to help the Cardinals improve to 12-5 since beginning the season 3-9.
Leake (4-1) allowed three hits, three runs, two walks and struck out two in seven innings. He held the Braves to just one hit before Matt Kemp doubled in the seventh and scored on Adonis Garcia’s three-run homer.
Leake, whose 1.79 ERA ranks second in the NL, gave up a single to Nick Markakis in the second and retired the next 12 batters before pinch-hitter Lane Adams reached on third baseman Greg Garcia’s throwing error in the sixth.
“If you get quick outs, it saves your energy and saves you from having to throw extra pitches,” Leake said. “It definitely keeps energy in the tank.”
The Cardinals led 1-0 in the first on Diaz’s RBI single, 3-0 in the third on Carpenter’s sixth homer, 4-0 in the fourth on Adams’ first homer, and 5-0 in the seventh on Diaz’s sacrifice fly.
Braves ace Julio Teheran (2-3) gave up nine hits, four runs, two walks and struck out three in five innings. His ERA rose 36 points to 4.69 in seven starts, more bad news for a pitching staff that’s given up 45 runs in its last five games.
Teheran dropped to 1-3 with an 8.14 ERA in four starts at SunTrust Park.
“His stuff wasn’t that bad, I didn’t think,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “He just had a hard time executing pitches. I thought he was a little crisper than he had been the last couple times.”
Atlanta has lost five of six.
Trevor Rosenthal, the second St. Louis pitcher, got Freddie Freeman to fly out and end the eighth with a runner on. Cardinals closer Seung Hwan Oh earned his seventh save in eighth opportunities, retiring Kemp, Markakis and Adonis Garcia in the ninth.
St. Louis starters have a 3.29 ERA, best in the majors. … Diaz is 11 for 15 with a homer and nine RBIs in five career games against Atlanta. … Phillips is 2 for 17 in the home stand. … The Braves’ pitching staff has a 5.92 ERA at the new ballpark.
Cardinals: 3B Jedd Gyorko, scratched from the lineup because of a sore right hand, singled as a pinch-hitter in the eighth. … RF Jose Martinez pulled up lame in the first, hurting his left groin as he ran to first. Manager Mike Matheny said Martinez will go to St. Louis on Sunday to get checked out by a team physician. Adams took his place in the lineup. … Martinez was the third St. Louis outfielder to get hurt in the last few days. Stephen Piscotty went on the DL Friday with a right hamstring strain. Dexter Fowler missed his second straight game with a sore shoulder.
Braves: SS Dansby Swanson isn’t hurt, but Snitker gave him the night off. Swanson went 0 for 4 Friday, dropping him to 1 for 10 on the home stand. He is hitting .150 with two homers and six RBIs in 100 at-bats.
Cardinals: RHP Michael Wacha (2-1) is 0-1 with a 3.12 ERA in four career appearances, including one start, against Atlanta.
Braves: RHP R.A. Dickey (3-2) is 3-1 with a 4.07 ERA in seven career appearances, including five starts, against St. Louis.