Leake and Molina lead Cardinals to 8-1 win over Nationals (Jun 30, 2017)
ST. LOUIS (AP) Mike Leake started the season as one of the top pitchers in the league. He struggled throughout June until Friday night.
The Cardinals right-hander pitched eight strong innings and Yadier Molina drove in four runs to help St. Louis beat the Washington Nationals 8-1.
''I think he sees the bigger picture of the season that he's had and the kind of pitcher that he was from the start for us,'' Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. ''It was exactly what we saw today. This is the kind of guy that he believes he should be every time he gets on the mound.''
The Cardinals have won five of their past six, while the Nationals have dropped four of six.
Leake (6-6) got his first win since he last went eight innings in a victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 24. He was 0-4 with two no-decisions before picking up the victory Friday. He pitched eight innings, giving up one run on five hits, striking out four and walking three.
Leake didn't make himself available after the game.
''Obviously when you see somebody go that deep in the game you know they were effective,'' said Washington's Brian Goodwin. ''He just got ahead of guys and just used his stuff the way he knows how.''
A wild Tanner Roark (6-6) took the loss, lasting just three innings. He gave up four hits but walked a season-high five, the final two of which resulted in the Cardinals' first two runs. Of his 85 pitches in the game, only 46 were strikes.
Roark said he never felt in control.
''I think just falling behind every single hitter was the source of everything,'' he said. ''You know five walks is never good. I was behind every hitter and not pumping strike one to get them on the defensive is a big thing. First pitch strikes are huge.''
Molina extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a two-run single in the third and added another two-run hit as the Cardinals scored five times in the fourth off reliever Jacob Turner. Molina scored on Paul DeJong's sixth homer of the season.
During his streak, Molina is hitting .328 with three home runs and 13 RBI.
For a few moments in the first inning, it looked as if the Nationals might have sustained another blow due to an injury. OF Bryce Harper was running out a ground ball and, as he approached first was hit by an errant throw in the ankle. He crossed first and took two more steps, before falling to the ground. Washington manager Dusty Baker and the Nationals' trainer came out to check on Harper who stayed on the ground for about three minutes before taking his place on first. He stayed in the game and had two walks and was hitless in two at-bats.
Freshly called up INF Adrian Sanchez made his Major League debut as a pinch runner in the eighth inning. He was erased on an inning-ending double play.
A NEW-OLD LOOK
Cardinals 1B Matt Carpenter took grounders at second base prior to the start of the game. He played 38 games at the position last year and was the regular starter in 2013. Matheny said he wanted to get him work at second to provide more flexibility on the roster, including possibly playing Luke Voit and Jose Martinez at first.
Cardinals: 2B Kolten Wong was targeted to return to the team this weekend but will remain on the disabled list through next week's All-Star Break. Wong was put on the 10-day list June 15 with a tricep injury.
Washington: The Nationals officially placed shortstop Trea Turner on the 10-day disabled list with a non-displaced fracture of his right wrist. Turner was hit by a pitch Thursday against the Cubs. The Nationals selected the contract of Sanchez from Triple-A Syracuse on Friday to take Turner's spot on the roster.
Cardinals: RHP Michael Wacha (4-3, 4.50) gets the start on his 26th birthday and is coming off his second consecutive winning decision. He needs six strikeouts for 500 in his career and to tie Hall of Famer Steve Carlton as the second fastest (106 games) to that mark in team history. Current starter Lance Lynn (101 games) holds the record.
Nationals: LHP (7-2, 2.87) looks to bounce back from a loss in his last outing, his first loss since early May.