Leake tough-luck loser against Wainwright, Cards
Reds righty allows two runs over six innings as Cincy drops series
CINCINNATI -- Reds manager Bryan Price is tired of talking about tremendous pitching performances from opposing starters, and a tremendous start from one of the best pitchers in baseball was the story of the night as Cincinnati fell, 4-0, to the Cardinals at Great American Ball Park Sunday.
Mike Leake was good again for the Reds, tossing six innings and allowing two runs on seven hits while walking two and tying a career high with eight strikeouts. But it was his counterpart and fellow right-hander Adam Wainwright that stole the show, leading to a frustrated Cincinnati skipper.
"He's really good," Price said of Wainwright. "But I'm really tired of talking about the other team's pitching and how good they are, to be honest with you. I'm just to the point where I'm tired of talking about how well these other guys are pitching against us. We've got a really good pitching staff, too, and there's no reason that we're not more competitive."
Wainwright shut down Reds hitters, who struck out a season-high 13 times and left seven men on base en route to Cincinnati's fifth shutout defeat of the season. And while much of that offensive futility had to do with the man Cincinnati faced on the mound, Price said his team needs to do more to get the job done at the plate, especially now that some of its injured hitters have returned to the lineup.
"We can't talk about the injuries anymore," Price said. "We're almost completely healthy. We can't talk about injuries and what that's done to our lineup and so on and so forth. But I do know that these guys hit and produce runs, and can hit situationally and can challenge more than we have to this point."
Leake notched his fifth consecutive quality start and seventh quality start in 10 outings this season, but took his fourth loss. Over his last five starts, he is 0-2 despite posting a 2.02 ERA.
"I had good stuff," Leake said. "There were a couple of balls, as far as pitch selection, that maybe I would've done different, but that's hindsight. So it's over and done with, and I'll move on to the Diamondbacks now."
The Cardinals got to Leake in the third inning, when Kolten Wong grounded an RBI single up the middle to score Tony Cruz and give St. Louis a 1-0 lead.
St. Louis scored another run against Leake in the sixth, on a two-out RBI single by Cruz, and two more in the seventh on singles by Matt Holliday and Allen Craig against relievers Manny Parra and Sam LeCure.
Leake said the only thing he can do is continue to battle despite the lack of run support.
"You just keep doing whatever I'm doing," Leake said. "You can't control any of this stuff. All you can control is where you throw the ball and how you throw the ball. So, just keep plugging away.
The two runs Leake surrendered were more than enough for his counterpart, as Wainwright threw eight innings, yielding five hits while walking one and striking out a career-high-tying 12.
"Last year, I was a one-side-of-the-plate pitcher, and [the Reds] just crushed me," Wainwright said. "This year, I'm pitching a lot differently, pitching to both sides of the plate, multiple pitches to both sides. It should be a lot harder to game plan for me."
"He doesn't give you a lot over the center-cut of the plate to really drive," said Zack Cozart, who had two of Cincinnati's six hits in the contest. "He might give you one where you might hit a single or whatever, but he's kind of like Johnny Cueto, in that he works the corners and he's good at that. When he gets behind, he seems to have a knack to throw a pitch on the corner and not leave it center-cut, and that's what makes him tough."
Cozart lamented the lineup's inability to back another solid effort by Leake.
"It's never good when you don't score runs for those guys when they pitch well," he said. "We've gotta do a better job of that."
Price continues to search for the answers for his club's offensive woes, and suggested that when the Reds take the field at Chavez Ravine on Monday to open their next series against the Dodgers, the lineup could have a different look.
"I have no idea what the lineup will look like," he said. "It may look different. I don't know."
After dropping their 10th series with St. Louis in their last 11, the Reds look west and hope for an offensive rejuvenation. In a game that often involves failure, there will be frustration at times. But Price is looking forward to better production on this next road trip.
"Baseball's a game of frustration. I get it, [my players] get it. Everyone gets it," Price said. "It's just been a frustrating first couple of months, and hopefully we can go to L.A. and do some damage and do what we're capable of doing."