video thumbnail

NYM@CIN: Leake goes the distance to notch the victory

CINCINNATI -- One of the obstacles that could prevent either Johnny Cueto or Aroldis Chapman from winning a National League Cy Young Award this season, R.A. Dickey and his Major League leading 15 wins, was on the mound for the Mets on Wednesday.

Both Cueto -- who also has 15 victories -- and Chapman were spectators on this night. It was Mike Leake who pitched for the Reds while knowing he wasn't the big headliner coming in.

"Little ol' four-[game] winner," Leake said of himself.

Leake certainly headlined in the outcome, a decisive 6-1 victory over the Mets, with his second complete game of the season, and his career. He allowed one run on four hits with no walks and four strikeouts as first-place Cincinnati won its fifth straight game and stretched its lead to seven games in the NL Central.

"He had it going on, big time," Reds manager Dusty Baker said of Leake.

Meanwhile, the Reds smashed three home runs off of Dickey over his six innings. One of them, by Todd Frazier to the center field riverboat deck, might still be carrying.

"It was a good all-around game for us. I couldn't ask for more," said Leake, now 5-7 with a 4.29 ERA.

With a 1-1 game in the bottom of the fourth, Scott Rolen was the first to go deep as he sent Dickey's 3-1 pitch into the left-field seats for a solo homer. Two pitches later, Frazier made it back-to-back homers with his monster shot that had an estimated distance of 474 feet.

It was the fourth-longest homer of the season in the Majors and tied for the 10th longest in the 10-year history of Great American Ball Park.

"I knew I got into it. I didn't know how far it was until it hit that boat out there," Frazier said. "I've hit some to left field that are pretty far, but nothing like that. That felt good, those ones you don't really feel off the bat. It felt really good."

In the sixth, Jay Bruce went deep for the third time in his last three games when he put an 0-1 Dickey pitch into the right-field seats. Frazier added a one-out single and Leake gave himself a four-run lead with a two-out RBI single slashed into left field that scored Frazier, who added a double in the seventh to finish a triple shy of the cycle.

Dickey entered the night leading the NL in strikeouts and ranked third in ERA, which rose from 2.72 to 2.89. Cueto is second in the league with a 2.45 ERA. In this game, he struck out nine but also gave up 10 hits -- and not just the homers traveled a long way, as the Reds supplied most of the power on high 70s-, low 80s-mph knuckleball pitches.

"When you center a knuckleball that doesn't have any spin on it and they go a long ways," Baker said. "The hard part is centering a knuckleball. We centered a couple tonight. He wasn't as sharp as we saw him in New York."

Dickey admitted to throwing poor knuckleballs during the game.

"I didn't do what I needed to do," Dickey said. "And with a team like that, they're going well. They're in first place for a reason. They've won over 70 games for a reason. You might not have as much margin for error on a night like this as you might another night."

Certainly not the way Leake was pitching for the other side. He retired his first nine batters in a row as he ran the Reds' pitching staff's scoreless-innings streak to 28, the franchise's longest stretch since it had 32 straight scoreless innings in 1963.

The Mets snapped the streak in the fourth inning, after Mike Baxter reached on an infield single and later came home as Daniel Murphy grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to make it a 1-1 game.

From that point, Leake retired 17 of the final 19 batters to finish the game.

"Awesome, awesome. He did his job," Frazier said. "When he gets that first-pitch strike over, which probably 80 percent of the time this whole game he did, it's fun to watch. And he works quick, which helps the defense out tremendously."

When Leake, with only 94 pitches to that point, batted for himself with two outs in the eighth, he received a loud ovation from the 26,082 fans in attendance. The bullpen was idle and he knew the game was his to finish.

"I was low in pitches and able to go back out there," Leake said. "If I was a little higher in pitches, I think [Baker] probably would have pulled me. It's definitely nice they're all in on you in that last inning."

Leake gave up a one-out bloop single to Baxter but retired his final two batters and finished with 111 pitches, including 70 for strikes. He threw first-pitch strikes to 21 of his 30 batters. His other complete game came on June 29 at San Francisco.

Meanwhile, the Reds' pitching staff has rediscovered its groove. It has allowed one run over its last 34 innings and boasts a 2.03 ERA over the last eight starts.

"We're not counting," Baker said. "You don't want to talk about it. You just want to keep doing it."

MLB.com Comments