Mike Leake has evolved into the most consistent pitcher in the Cardinals rotation thus far.
In a good way, of course.
Entering Thursday night, the 28-year old pitcher had won three straight games, and looked to improve to 4-3.
As for St. Louis, they had just come off a disappointing loss to the Chicago Cubs, on their way to beginning a four-game road series against the Washington Nationals. Joe Ross would get the start on the mount for the Nationals (29-19).
Through the first three innings of the game, it was nothing short of a pitcher’s duel, as both teams combined for a mere three hits to go along with no runs allowed. The Cardinals offense that scored eight runs on Wednesday once again sputtered.
But in the fourth inning, Aledmys Diaz continued his outstanding rookie season, hitting his seventh home run, which put the Cardinals on the board by the score of 1-0.
On the mound, Leake continued his hot streak, keeping the Nationals in check, including the reigning MVP, Bryce Harper. That is, until the bottom of the sixth inning, when the young star hit a solo shot of his own to make it a 1-1 game.
It was the longest home run Harper had hit on the season.
In the bottom of the seventh, a solo home run by Danny Espinosa then made it a 2-1 game, a deficit from which the Cardinals could not bounce back from, as Ross also had himself a successful outing on the mound.
Leake’s final line for the evening: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 95 pitches (62 of which were strikes).
Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon came into the game to pitch the ninth inning, getting the save after shutting down the Cardinals 1-2-3.
With the 2-1 victory, Nationals manager Dusty Baker notched his 1,700th career managerial win in his long career.
NOTE: Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams exited the game Thursday night with back tightness. He will be re-evaluated on Friday.