Mike Leake led the Cincinnati Reds to a 4-1 win Monday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Game 1 of a crucial four-game set between two of the top clubs in the Major League. The right-hander held the Pirates’ offense to one run and scattered six hits through seven innings, walked one and struck out three to pick up his seventh win of the year.
Cincinnati (43-28) got all four of their runs via solo home runs, two coming off starter Francisco Liriano who came into Monday’s game not allowing a long ball in 42 innings this season.
Liriano gave up his first home run in eight starts and it came off the bat of Zack Cozart. The solo shot gave the Reds a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning.
The Pirates’ offense responded in the top of the sixth inning when Russell Martin hit a 2-out RBI double, scoring Andrew McCutchen.
Todd Frazier took Liriano deep in the Reds’ half of the sixth to put Cincinnati back in front 2-1.
Joey Votto and Jay Bruce then gave the Reds a comfortable three-run lead in the eighth inning with a pair of solo homers in the eighth.
Cincinnati secured the win thanks to Aroldis Chapman who notched his 18th save of the year striking out Starling Marte with a 100 miles-per-hour fastball to end the game.
Liriano pitched well enough to give Pittsburgh (41-29) a chance to stay in the game, but was not able to get the offensive support he did in his last start when he did not have his best stuff. He gave up the two home runs, five hits, two walks and recorded six strikeouts in six innings.
The Pirates and Reds will meet again on Tuesday for Game 2 of this four-game series. Charlie Morton (0-1) will make his second start of the season for the Bucs and will face Matt Latos (6-0).
Ekiert’s Top Performers:
PIT: Russell Martin; C- 2-for-3, RBI double
CIN: Zack Cozart; SS- 1-for-3, HR (7)