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Leake cruises in between two costly mistakes

Reds righty retires 20 of 22 after leadoff homer, before late double, go-ahead sac fly

ST. LOUIS -- It was a brisk two-hour, two-minute game for the Reds and Cardinals on Sunday night, when Mike Leake needed only 86 pitches -- including 66 for strikes -- to work a complete game. Yet Leake was on the wrong side of a 2-1 Cincinnati loss -- the team's fourth in a row.

Besides the two earned runs, Leake gave up only four hits over his eight innings, with three walks.

"If you get a start like Leake had and lose it, it's not a good thing. I'm glad we're on the other side of it," Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter said.

The bottom of the first inning began with Carpenter's home run for a 1-0 Cardinals lead. After that, Leake retired 20 of the next 22, including a stretch of 15 in a row.

"That's tough," catcher Tucker Barnhart said of the Carpenter leadoff homer. "But he righted the ship really quick. That's Mike. He throws a bunch of strikes. He pitches to contact. He kept us in the game all night."

Leading off the bottom of the eighth in a 1-1 game, Jon Jay lined a double to right-center field and moved to third base on a Yadier Molina groundout. Kolten Wong's sacrifice fly scored the go-ahead run.

"Leaker was great. Eight great innings," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "Unfortunately, it will be remembered for Jon Jay hitting a double and the Cardinals doing some good situational offense, with Molina moving the runner and Wong getting the sacrifice fly to left. ... We've got to sit here and talk about what the Cardinals did right and what we didn't."

Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright pitched eight innings, with one run and seven hits allowed. Both Wainwright and Leake moved through their opposing lineups quickly. Wainwright had 13 outs on first- or second-pitch contact, while Leake had 11.

"Coming into games against Wainwright, you've got to put up low numbers," Leake said. "It's fun facing guys like that. Jon Jay, he's a tougher out in later innings than he is in earlier innings. He's a competitive hitter and did what he needed to do. He got on second base and scored their winning run."

It was Leake's third complete game of his career, and his first since he threw two of them for wins in 2012. This one came at a time when the Reds' lineup has struggled, with only four runs scored during the losing streak.

"All our job to do is keep us in the game, as a starting pitcher at least," Leake said. "That's all you can ask for when you go out there. You're not going to score runs every day. Wainwright is a tough guy to score runs on. You can't necessarily expect runs against guys like that. You've got to keep games close. Unfortunately, it was a 2-1 game."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon.
Read More: Cincinnati Reds, Mike Leake