ATLANTA — The first homer that Mike Leake has allowed this season came too late to take away from another impressive pitching performance.
Leake allowed one hit until the seventh inning and Aledmys Diaz continued his torrid hitting as the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Atlanta Braves 5-3 on Saturday night.
Diaz was 3-for-4 with two RBIs, Matt Carpenter and Matt Adams each homered, and the Cardinals (15-14) withstood a three-run homer by Adonis Garcia that broke Leake’s spell.
“Just left a pitch,” Leake said of Garcia’s homer. “They got a hit, I walked a guy and I left a pitch out over the middle.”
Diaz, who is batting .545 (12-for-22) in five games this month, was 4-for-4 with three RBIs in Friday’s 10-0 victory and is 10-for-13 in his past three games. It was Leake, though, who had the spotlight.
“I think the fastball and cutter were moving pretty good tonight, so I didn’t have to go too deep with the secondary stuff,” Leake said. “I thought I was doing a good job mixing and matching. That was making it a little bit easier.”
Leake, who led all National League starters with a 1.35 ERA in April, allowed a second-inning single by Nick Markakis. That was the last base runner for the Braves (11-17) until a walk and error in the sixth.
Matt Kemp doubled and Freddie Freeman walked in the seventh before Garcia picked on a too-fat first pitch from Leake and sent his third homer of the season over the center-field fence.
Leake (4-1) threw 61 of his 90 pitches for strikes in his seven-inning outing, logging his sixth quality start and fourth consecutive victory.
“He’s throwing the ball really well and he was real efficient attacking hitters,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “I knew we were going to have our hands full going into tonight, so it’s a problem when you get behind and have to play catch-up.”
Braves starter Julio Teheran (2-3) labored through five innings on 110 pitches as he lost his third straight home start. He gave up nine hits and two first-inning walks while striking out three.
Teheran has given up 17 runs in 15 innings during the home losing streak, allowing five homers, 22 hits and seven walks.
“His stuff wasn’t that bad I didn’t think,” Snitker said. “He just had a hard time executing pitches. I thought he was a little crisper than he had been the last couple times.”
The Braves gave up a first-inning run for the fifth straight game as Diaz delivered a two-out RBI single. In the third, Carpenter went deep for his sixth homer of the season.
Teheran left a 2-2 pitch in the middle of the plate and Carpenter smashed a two-run blast to the Chop House in right field.
It was the second two-run homer for Carpenter in his many nights and he is 8-for-19 with three homers and eight walks while reaching base safely in six straight games.
The Cardinals lost a run in the third when Greg Garcia was called out for interference on a suicide bunt attempt but got it back in the fourth as Adams matched Carpenter by blasting a 0-1 pitch off the Chop House for his first homer of the season.
A sacrifice fly by Diaz plated an unearned run in the seventh before Garcia went deep for the Braves.
Cardinals closer Seung Hwan Oh pitched a perfect ninth for his seventh save of the season.
The Braves have lost seven of their past eight home games after sweeping a four-game series with San Diego to break in SunTrust Park.
Leake had thrown less than 40 pitches through four innings and Teheran was passed 40 by the second.
“If you get quick outs, it saves your energy and saves you from having to throw extra pitches,” Leake said. “It definitely keeps energy in the tank.”
NOTES: RF Jose Martinez left the game because of a left groin suffered trying to beat out a grounder in the first inning, adding to the Cardinals’ injury list. … Cardinals 3B Jedd Gyorko (sore right hand) was scratched from the lineup after being hit by a bad-hop smash Friday, CF Dexter Fowler (strained right shoulder) missed his second straight game and RF Stephen Piscotty (strained right hamstring) is on the 10-day disabled list. … Gyorko singled as a pinch hitter in the eighth…. St. Louis OF Randal Grichuk moved from left to right after Martinez’s injury and made a diving catch in the bottom of the first. … Braves CF Ender Inciarte made full-sprint catches to deprive RHP Mike Leake and Grichuk of extra-base hits in the fourth. … Cardinals 2B Kolten Wong extended his career-best hitting streak to 11 games. … Braves INF/OF Jace Peterson got his second start of the season in place of slumping rookie SS Dansby Swanson. … Braves 2B Brandon Phillips made a diving stop on the outfield grass and threw out Adams in the sixth. … The teams played through rain that started in the third inning and stopped by the fifth. … Braves RHP R.A. Dickey (3-2, 3.94 ERA) will start Sunday in the series finale against Cardinals RHP Michael Wacha (2-1, 3.23 ERA).