Game Report: Cardinals 8, Nationals 1

By Rob Rains

A combination of good pitching, big hits and timely defense led the Cardinals to a win over the Nationals Friday night at Busch Stadium.

Yadier Molina drove in four runs with a pair of two-run singles, Mike Leake allowed just five hits over eight innings and the defense chipped in with four double plays as the Cardinals won for the fifth time in their last six games.

The Cardinals are now 38-41, the first time they have been just three games under .500 since June 13. They remained 3 ½ games behind the first-place Brewers in the NL Central.

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate: Molina extended his hitting streak to 15 consecutive games with his bases-loaded single in the third inning before driving in two more runs with another single in a five-run fifth inning. It was the 14th time in Molina’s career he has driven in four or more runs in a game … Paul DeJong capped the fourth inning with a two-run homer, his sixth of the season … The Cardinals have scored eight runs in each of their last three home games.

On the mound: Leake won his first game since May 24. In his six starts since his last win, he had allowed 21 earned runs in 36 2/3 innings, going 0-4 with two no-decisions. Leake struck our four and walked three, one of whom was Bryce Harper leading off the fourth and he later scored on one of the double plays … Sam Tuivailala pitched the ninth inning.

Key stat:
DeJong’s homer was the 42 of the month for the Cardinals, the most they have ever hit in the month of June. The previous mark of 41 was set in June 2003, the only other time the team hit more than 36 homers during the month of June.

Worth noting: The Cardinals finished June with a 13-16 record, seven of the losses coming on one road trip to Chicago and Cincinnati early in the month … The five-run fourth inning came against reliever Jacob Turner, a St. Louis native who was making his third career appearance at Busch Stadium. He started once and relieved once when he was with the Marlins in 2013 and 2014 … Matt Carpenter took ground balls at second base before the game. He has started one game at third this season and the other 69 starts have been at first, but he could see some time at second while Kolten Wong is on the DL as a way to get either Luke Voit or Jose Martinez into the lineup at first base. Wong, dealing with a sore right arm, is not likely to return until after the All-Star break … Zach Duke, who had Tommy John surgery last October, pitched an inning for the GCL Cardinals on Friday as his rehab begins to ramp up. He allowed an infield single and recorded one strikeout.

Looking ahead: Michael Wacha will get the start in the second game of the series at 6:15 p.m. Saturday night. Gio Gonzalez will start for the Nationals.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains


Post-Game Interview with Mike Matheny