Leake, Piscotty lead Cardinals past Nationals, 6-1, to avoid sweep
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Mike Leake outpitched 2016 NL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, Stephen Piscotty homered and had five RBIs, and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Washington Nationals 6-1 on Wednesday to avoid a three-game sweep.
Leake (1-1) gave up four hits, struck out seven and walked none over seven shutout innings. The right-hander allowed hits to the first two batters, then picked off a runner before getting 19 straight outs. The streak ended when Daniel Murphy singled with two outs in the seventh.
By that time, St. Louis had taken a 3-0 lead against Scherzer, who yielded only one earned run. He did, however, throw three wild pitches -- two in the third inning -- after tossing only two all last year while going 20-7.
Scherzer (1-1) allowed three runs, four hits and two walks in six innings. He struck out 10, the 50th time in his career he reached double figures in strikeouts.
Piscotty hit RBI singles in the first and fifth innings before launching a three-run drive in the ninth off Joe Blanton. The five RBIs tied a career high.
With Leake and Piscotty leading the way, St. Louis dodged its first 2-7 start since 1997. After yielding 22 runs in the first two games of the series, the Cardinals chilled Washington's formidable lineup behind Leake, who permitted only two runners past first base and reduced his ERA to 0.60.
After Leake was pulled, Adam Eaton hit an RBI single in the eighth inning and Washington placed runners at the corners with two outs before Brett Cecil got Bryce Harper to line out to third.
Piscotty's drive in the ninth ended any remaining suspense.
St. Louis used a walk and a double by Piscotty to go up 1-0 in the first inning.
In the bottom half, Eaton doubled and took third on a single by Anthony Rendon. Not long after that, a replay requested by the Cardinals revealed that Leake picked off Rendon, and the right-hander subsequently struck out Harper and retired Murphy on a comebacker.
St. Louis took advantage of an error by shortstop Wilmer Difo to score two unearned runs in the fifth.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny is exercising patience while waiting for three-time All-Star Jhonny Peralta to break a hitting slump.
Peralta is 3 for 20 with eight strikeouts and no walks.
"He's run against good guys making good pitches," said Matheny, who sat Peralta on Wednesday. "We have to let him run the course."
Cardinals: 1B Matt Carpenter returned to the starting lineup after back tightness limited him to a pinch-hitting role on Tuesday.
Nationals: Placed INF Stephen Drew on the 10-day DL with a strained right hamstring. The injury occurred Tuesday night. He's been replaced on the roster by INF Grant Green.
Cardinals: The team intended to travel by train to New York on Wednesday night, take Thursday off and start a three-game series at Yankee Stadium on Friday night.
Nationals: Following an off day Thursday, Washington opens a three-game series against the visiting Philadelphia Phillies on Friday.