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Leake, Cards' bullpen stifle Rox in opener

MLB.com

ST. LOUIS -- The energy and sharpness that had eluded Cardinals right-hander Mike Leake reappeared during an 8-2 victory over the previously hot Rockies at Busch Stadium on Monday night.

Benefiting from the power of Randal Grichuk, whose two-run shot in the fourth gave him a four-game homer streak, Leake (7-8) held the Rockies, who had put up 73 runs while winning six of their previous seven games and began the night leading the National League Wild Card race, scoreless on four hits in seven innings, with six strikeouts.

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ST. LOUIS -- The energy and sharpness that had eluded Cardinals right-hander Mike Leake reappeared during an 8-2 victory over the previously hot Rockies at Busch Stadium on Monday night.

Benefiting from the power of Randal Grichuk, whose two-run shot in the fourth gave him a four-game homer streak, Leake (7-8) held the Rockies, who had put up 73 runs while winning six of their previous seven games and began the night leading the National League Wild Card race, scoreless on four hits in seven innings, with six strikeouts.

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"That was the goal, attack their weaknesses," Leake said. "Fortunately, today I was able to consistently hit my spots."

Seemingly unable to maintain energy -- a holdover from a bout of shingles last year -- Leake had gone 0-2 with a 7.59 ERA in his previous three starts, and 1-6 with a 5.04 ERA in his previous 10. He began the night 1-2 with a 7.52 ERA in four starts against the Rockies, and ended it with a win in the Cards' first home game in 15 days.

"I think, obviously, everyone's antenna was up," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Leake's strength. "We were hypersensitive to see if there was anything like he was tired or not rebounding each inning, but he continued right down to his last, which I thought was one of his best. Good stuff, good movement, putting them where he wants to, and that's what we've seen a good part of this season."

Rockies rookie starter Antonio Senzatela (10-4) walked the first two batters and gave up two runs in the first inning to run his season ERA in the first to 8.47 in 17 games. He threw 86 pitches in four innings and gave up four runs on six hits, including the Grichuk homer.

"It was a struggle for me," Senzatela said. "I was leaving the ball up. I need to make a quality pitch."

Video: COL@STL: Grichuk extends homer streak to four

Said Rockies manager Bud Black: "When your pitch count elevates to 40-plus in the first inning, you're really swimming upstream."

Reliever Chris Rusin yielded two homers in the seventh, to Jose Martinez and Tommy Pham.

Video: COL@STL: Jose Martinez belts a pinch-hit solo jack

Pat Valaika ended the Cardinals' shutout bid with a pinch-hit two-run homer in the eighth. Valaika's three pinch-hit homers are a Rockies rookie record.

Video: COL@STL: Valaika drills a pinch-hit homer to left

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The one that got away: Senzatela walked Dexter Fowler and Pham, but a pitch that eluded catcher Tony Wolters for a passed ball hurt, as it put runners on second and third for Paul DeJong, who delivered an RBI single. Jedd Gyorko grounded into a double play that forced in another run -- one that might not have scored had the passed ball not occurred.

Video: COL@STL: DeJong gets an RBI single on overturned call

Out of a jam: After Valaika's homer in the eighth, the Cardinals' bullpen was put to the test. With runners on first and second with one out, left-hander Kevin Siegrist was called upon to get St. Louis out of the situation the two pitchers prior to him had created. Siegrist promptly set down the first two batters he faced, striking out Gerardo Parra and forcing Mark Reynolds to line out, ending the Rockies' threat on just six pitches.

Video: COL@STL: Siegrist strands two, escapes trouble in 8th

QUOTABLE
"I'm not going to doubt this team's resiliency. ... This is a tough team, I'm going to tell you that right now. No doubt on the toughness, and I think that's going to pay dividends down the road as long as we continue to believe in what we have, continue to work and get better and improve on a lot of things. Toughness is not an issue, resiliency is not an issue." -- Matheny, on the Cardinals bouncing back from a tough series loss to the Cubs

Matheny may soon have tough OF decisions

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Pham has homered in three straight games against the Rockies (following May 27-28). He is the only player in the Majors with a home run in three straight vs. Colorado this season. The D-backs' Brandon Drury accomplished the feat last season (Sept. 12-14).

Video: COL@STL: Pham extends lead with a solo dinger

WITH THE GREATEST OF EASE
Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado -- who on Monday was named NL Player of the Week -- padded his resume with a diving catch of a Kolten Wong line drive to end the first with two runners on.

Video: Must C Catch: Arenado dives right for fantastic catch

PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES
Rockies pitching coach Steve Foster experienced chest pains before the game and was sent to a local hospital as a precautionary measure. Said Black: "[Foster is] getting through a battery of tests, but so far what I'm hearing is he's doing well. We expect 'Fostie' to be back tomorrow."

WHAT'S NEXT
Rockies: Right-hander Jon Gray (3-1, 6.19 ERA) will start against the Cardinals on Tuesday at 6:15 p.m. MT. Gray hopes to erase the memory of his only start at Busch Stadium, on May 19 last season, when he surrendered a career-high nine runs on eight hits in 3 1/3 innings.

Cardinals: Right-hander Lance Lynn (8-6, 3.30 ERA) will look to continue his post-All-Star break success when he takes the mound on Tuesday night at 7:15 p.m. CT. Lynn has given up just one run over his last three starts (19 1/3 innings) and has held opponents to two earned runs or fewer in 14 starts.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page.

Alaina Getzenberg is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Louis.