Published November 20, 2014
The Diamondbacks couldn't beat a pitcher getting razzed in his own ballpark.
Mike Leake saw a few caustic signs during his first appearance since his shoplifting arrest, but ignored them and gave the Cincinnati Reds a much-needed boost Thursday, going seven innings for a 7-4 victory over Arizona.
"I've never been in that position myself," said Stephen Drew, who had an RBI single off Leake and a solo homer. "It was probably a release for him to be able to get out there and do something he's done his whole life."
Leake (3-0) led the Reds to only their second win in eight games. The defending NL Central champs had fallen to .500 for the first time since May 8, and desperately needed a good showing by Leake, who allowed three runs and fanned six in his longest outing of the season.
"He throws everything, and he'll throw any pitch at any time," Drew said. "That's how he pitches. He got on a roll for two or three innings where he had good command."
Police reports said Leake removed the tags from six American Rag T-shirts at a Macy's store downtown on Monday afternoon and tried to leave without paying for them. The shirts were valued at $59.88.
Reds manager Dusty Baker considered skipping his turn in the rotation, but decided Leake wouldn't let the arrest distract from his pitching preparations.
A few fans had fun at his expense.
Leake got a typical round of applause when he came to bat for the first time and grounded into a double play that ended the first inning. One fan in the left field stands held up a sign that said, "Mike Leake We Gave You The Bunt Sign Not The Steal Sign!" Another sign said, "Steal Us A Win Leake."
Two fans sitting 10 rows behind the home dugout wore Bengals helmets — the NFL team had a series of player arrests a few years back.
"I didn't know if they were going to support me or not," Leake said. "For the most part, I think they were very nice about it."
Leake didn't get off to a good start, although that's been the norm in Cincinnati lately. Brian Roberts doubled and scored on Drew's single for a 1-0 lead — the fifth game in a row that a Reds starter allowed at least one run in the opening inning.
The Reds have given up 23 runs in the first inning, the most in the majors.
Daniel Hudson (0-4) was far worse in the bottom half of the inning, throwing 37 pitches while facing nine batters. He walked Jay Bruce and Paul Janish with the bases loaded to force in runs, and gave up a two-run single by Miguel Cairo. Joey Votto hit his third homer in the fifth, helping the Reds pull away.
Hudson also has been struggling in the first inning.
"I can't keep putting my team in a deficit and expect them to fight their way out of it," Hudson said. "I've got to fight through this. I'm extremely frustrated. That's three straight games — four straight, really — where I've struggled in the first inning. That's unacceptable."
Manager Kirk Gibson could see the frustration building in the 24-year-old pitcher as the first inning went along.
"He lost his composure a little bit," Gibson said. "We have to work on getting him going in the first inning. It hasn't been good. I saw him kick the mound one time. It looks like he's trying too hard. He has good stuff."
NOTES: Arizona 3B Melvin Mora missed his third game with a sore left foot. ... Roberts, who took Mora's place in the lineup, has a career-high eight-game hitting streak. ... Hudson gave up seven runs in 5 1-3 innings, raising his ERA to 5.92. ... The Reds have been outscored 23-16 in the first inning. ... Baker gave 3B Scott Rolen a day off, saying he looked slow the last couple of days. ... The Reds went 2-5 on their homestand, leaving them 7-6 at Great American Ball Park this season.