The right-hander hit his first career homer – the first of three solo shots in a row – and allowed only two hits over eight innings Monday to lead the Cincinnati Reds to a 4-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves.
When Leake connected on a 1-2 pitch from Mike Minor (2-4) with two outs in the fourth inning, he sprinted around the bases with no outward show of celebration. Then, he sat in the dugout and watched Zack Cozart and Drew Stubbs also go deep within a 10-pitch span.
“I started a trend, I guess,” Leake said. “It was nice to see three in a row.”
Leake (1-5) finally got his first victory in eight starts this season, doing a little bit of everything. He struck out a season-high six and retired 14 in a row after Juan Francisco homered in the second inning.
“He was outstanding,” Stubbs said. “That was a big performance for him. He’d been struggling. That should be a big boost for his confidence. I’m glad to see it.”
All the runs were scored on solo homers at one of the majors’ most hitter-friendly ballparks.
The Braves had a chance to tie it in the ninth, when the Reds’ lack of a proven closer came into play again.
Jose Arredondo walked two with two outs before Sean Marshall retired Jason Heyward on a fly ball for his eighth save.
Reds manager Dusty Baker did not use reliever Aroldis Chapman, who pitched in four of the previous five games.
After the game, the Reds learned that Chapman had been arrested in central Ohio early Monday for speeding and driving with a suspended license. He has a court hearing set for June 6.
Minor had a strange outing. He went six innings and yielded five hits, four of them homers.
“I don’t think it was the ballpark,” Minor said. “The pitches were up, and that’s what they did – home runs. They were sitting on my best pitch tonight, which was my changeup. Three of the four homers came off changeups.”
Leake gave up a homer deep into the Braves’ bullpen by Francisco in the second. The Braves got only one other runner as far as second base against Leake, who threw 98 pitches and walked one.