By Joe Harris, Associated Press
ST. LOUIS — Randal Grichuk is riding his longest home run streak in the majors.
Grichuk hit a two-run homer, Mike Leake pitched seven scoreless innings and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Colorado Rockies 8-2 on Monday night.
Leake’s six-strikeout performance was his best since giving up one run over eight innings against Washington on June 30. It was the first win for Leake (7-8) against the Rockies since Aug. 10, 2011.
“That was the goal, attack their weaknesses,” Leake said. “Fortunately, today I was able to consistently hit my spots.”
Kevin Siegrist pitched the Cardinals out of a two-on, one-out jam in the eighth by getting Gerardo Parra to strike out and Mark Reynolds to fly out. Tyler Lyons struck out the side in the ninth.
The Cardinals improved to 20-5 against the Rockies at home since the 2010 season. Colorado fell to 3-14 in its last 17 road games.
Grichuk’s two-run homer off Rockies starter Antonio Senzatela (10-4) gave the Cardinals a 4-0 lead in the fourth, extending his home run streak to a career-high four games. He is the 11th player in the major leagues to have such a streak this season.
“It’s going to be a challenge for him every single day to lay off the high fast balls and the breaking balls low in the zone and once he gets a better handle on that, which I think he’s going to continue to improve on, he’s going to cause damage when he finds the ball,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.
Grichuk’s home run binge came as soon as he was activated from the disabled list Friday. The DL stint followed an option down to Triple-A earlier this season, his second such option in as many seasons.
Matheny said Grichuk has taken each setback in stride.
“A lot of it is the mindset and he goes down with a plan to fix things and then stay the course,” Matheny said. “We’ve all been rewarded when he gets it right.”
Jose Martinez and Tommy Pham each hit solo home runs in the seventh off Chris Rusin to make it 6-0. It was Martinez’s second pinch-hit homer of the season and fourth total for St. Louis.
Dexter Fowler and Pham led off the bottom of the first with walks and both scored to give the Cardinals a 2-0 lead. Senzatela, who didn’t walk a batter will pitching a career-high eight innings against St. Louis on April 26, needed 39 pitches and Nolan Arenado’s diving catch that saved at least another run to get out of the first inning.
Senzatela lasted just four innings, matching his season low in a start. It was the second straight start in which he gave up four runs.
“From the start of the game I didn’t have my fastball command,” Senzatela said. “It was a real struggle for me.”
Jairo Diaz gave up two runs while walking a career-high three in one inning of relief.
Pat Valaika’s third career pinch-hit home run in the eighth was the Rockies’ offense, as Zach Duke failed to record an out in relief of Leake.
Rockies manager Bud Black said Leake pitched well.
“He was moving the ball around and the guy’s in the top ten in ERA for a reason,” Black said. “He’s a good pitcher. He kept the ball off the barrel.”