Zack Cozart and Todd Frazier hit upper deck home runs. The power hitters dumped souvenirs into the lower deck in leftfield.
Mike Leake may not be just the best number 5 starter in baseball, but lately, he has been among the best.
Cozart and Frazier victimized Pittsburgh starter Francisco Liriano, who pitched 45 innings without allowing a home run until Cozart's blast two outs into the fourth inning.
Mike Leake won his seventh game by protecting a slim lead until the sixth. He was nicked for a run on a two-out double by Russel Martin but that was it. He finished seven innings, allowing six hits and a walk.
Leake's ERA shrank to 2.64 as he pitched at least seven innings for the seventh time in 14 starts. In his last two starts against the Pirates, Leake pitched 13 innings and allowed one run.
Leake is 6-2 in his last nine starts in which he has pitched 59-2/3 innings and has a 1.81 ERA.
It was just a few months ago that everyone wanted the flame-throwing Aroldis Chapman in the rotation. Leake shut down the Pirates for seven innings.
"It (being doubted) adds a little fire to it," Leake said. "It helps motivate me."
Baker, who has been in Leake's corner since he was signed, pointed out that Leake has matured physically and mentally.
"I was talking to Jim Maloney (former Reds' ace from the '60's) the other day," Baker said. "He told me Leake has man muscles now rather than little boy muscles. He's new and improved. Don't forget two years ago he was one of our best starters. He is still learning. He is pitching with a lot of confidence. He is quietly going about his business. No fanfare no change in personality. He is just pitching."
Leake thinks the added strength allows him to keep the ball down.
"I am able to get on top of the ball," Leake said.
Versatile Sam LeCure came in to face two tough hitters. Up-and-coming Tony Cingrani gave Dusty Baker the luxury of another left-handed power arm to face the likes of Garrett Jones, who broke the Reds' heart with a game-tying home run in their last meeting.
"Cingrani is especially tough on lefties but he's tough on righties too. Guys don't see him two or three times. He can get them at the end of the game. They have been out in the hot sun. They may not be tired but their bats are just a little slower," Baker said.
Aroldis Chapman struck out two to claim his 18th save.
Professionally edited by ML Schirmer
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