ST. LOUIS — Mike Leake was able to finally endear himself to the St. Louis Cardinals fans, while burning a team he wanted to sign with as a free agent this offseason.
Bouyed by home runs from Jedd Gyorko, Matt Adams and Yadier Molina, Leake pitched seven scoreless innings and the Cardinals beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-2 on Saturday.
Leake wanted to go to the Diamondbacks, but ended up with the Cardinals after Arizona signed Zack Greinke and traded for Shelby Miller.
"It’s always nice to kind of, I guess, stick it to a team that it didn’t work out with," Leake said. "At the end of the day it’s still another opponent and another team that you have to get through."
Leake (3-3) retired eight straight between the second and fourth innings and battled back from a 3-0 count to strike out Chris Owings in the fifth to help thwart the Diamondbacks’ best scoring opportunity against him.
"We needed Mike today," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "He did a great job, was solid right from the start and had everything he was looking for, did a great job of mixing it up and getting ground balls and guys made real nice plays behind him. He made nice plays himself."
It was Leake’s third straight win and first at home as a Cardinal. During that span, Leake has a 0.85 ERA.
"I was trying to pound the ball into the zone and get productive outs," Leake said. "I think we accomplished that today."
Leake even showed off at the plate with a double to left in the sixth. The righty also made a nice barehanded play to throw out Rickie Weeks Jr. at first in the seventh.
"Same old, same old from him," Weeks said of Leake. "Back door sinkers, cutters, he kept the ball down. Obviously, we hit the ball pretty good I thought, but it was right at people on the ground. Obviously, it’s tough to get runs on the board when you keep pounding the ball in the ground."
Diamondbacks starter Robbie Ray (2-3) battled through five innings, only one of which was clean. He gave up two runs, stranded six runners, walked four and threw 65 of his 102 pitches for strikes.
Gyorko made Arizona pay in the second for allowing Adams to reach ahead of him on an error, smashing a 2-0 pitch into the Diamondbacks’ bullpen. He also added an RBI single in the seventh.
Adams went opposite field for a solo home run in the sixth and Molina’s two-run blast in the seventh was his first since Aug. 19, 2015 against San Francisco.
"The way everything’s going right now that’s where I want it to be when I’m in the box," Adams said. "I’m standing on my back side and swinging at good pitches right now."
Weeks hit a Trevor Rosenthal pitch into the Diamondbacks bullpen in the ninth for the Diamondbacks’ only runs. It was Weeks’ first homer of the season.
The Diamondbacks proceeded to load the bases, bringing the game-tying run to the plate before Rosenthal got the final out.
Leake was helped by two great back-to-back catches in the fourth by Matt Holliday and Stephen Piscotty. Holliday snared a tailing line drive off the bat of Brandon Drury on the left field track and Piscotty crashed into the right field wall to rob Paul Goldschmidt of an extra base hit.
Diamondbacks: RHP Josh Collmenter (shoulder) will make his fifth rehab start on Sunday for Triple-A Reno. He’s expected to make one more rehab appearance before the team must make a decision.
Cardinals: Highly-touted minor leaguer RHP Alex Reyes will make his first start of the season Sunday at Triple-A Memphis after being reinstated from a 50-game suspension, which resulted from a positive test for marijuana.
Diamondbacks: RHP Zack Greinke (4-3, 5.08 ERA) will pitch the rubber game of the series. He earned the win his last start against the New York Yankees and is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in three road starts this season.
Cardinals: LHP Jaime Garcia (3-3, 2.86 ERA) is 5-0 with a 2.94 ERA in six career starts against Arizona. He has not allowed a home run to an NL West batter in his last 171 batters faced since Arizona’s Nick Ahmed hit one on May 26, 2015.