ST. LOUIS -- Mike Leake Monday night became the 10th pitcher in MLB history to fan 10 or more hitters with no walks and one run or less in two straight starts since Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw did it last year.
Yet St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny hooked Leake after just six innings and 88 pitches, looking for the hit that could break open a one-run game with the San Diego Padres.
Matt Adams delivered that blow, a two-run double that kicked off a four-run rally and led to a 10-2 win at steamy Busch Stadium.
The outburst enabled Leake (7-7) to notch his second straight win and become the first St. Louis pitcher since Lance Lynn in 2012 to strike out at least 10 batters in consecutive starts. After whiffing 10 in a July 10 victory at Milwaukee, Leake notched 11 punchouts, one shy of his career high.
"I'm attacking more," Leake said. "I'm trying to get a few more strikeouts. My release might be a little more deceptive."
Leake gave up six hits and one run -- Matt Kemp's 19th homer with one out in the fourth -- before Matheny sacrificed him for Michael McKenry. San Diego manager Andy Green played the dance of the percentages, removing starter Christian Friedrich for right-hander Carlos Villanueva.
Matheny then tabbed Adams to regain the platoon advantage. Adams drove a 3-2 pitch past center fielder Melvin Upton, Jr. into the left-center-field gap, scoring Jedd Gyorko and Greg Garcia for a 4-1 lead.
It was Adams' ninth hit in 21 pinch-hit at-bats. He has two homers and eight RBIs.
"We need offense at that point," Matheny said. "He (Leake) might have one more inning. He was at 88 pitches, so he was pushing it with the humidity tonight. It comes down to taking a shot to get us a little more space."
Aledmys Diaz scored Adams with a two-out triple to the wall in left-center for a 5-1 lead and Stephen Piscotty singled up the middle to cap the game-breaking inning.
After the Padres (41-52) tallied a run in the seventh on an infield out by pinch-hitter Alexi Amarista, the Cardinals (48-44) piled on in their half of the seventh. Randal Grichuk cracked a two-run homer off Jose Dominguez and Gyorko lined the next pitch into the San Diego bullpen to make it 9-2.
Piscotty capped St. Louis' 13-hit attack in the eighth with a 439-foot homer into the third deck in left field, marking the 13th time this year it's scored 10 or more runs in a game.
The Cardinals didn't crack the code against Friedrich through four innings, even though the left-hander gave up four hits and a walk to the first nine batters. But Friedrich's lack of command finally bit him in the fifth, when he walked Leake and Diaz to set up Matt Holliday's game-tying RBI single.
Diaz scored all the way from first when left fielder Alex Dickerson's throw home plunked Leake in the back and rolled to the backstop.
Friedrich (4-6) ended up allowing six hits and four runs, three earned, over 5 1/3 innings. He gave up five walks and fanned two.
"The walks didn't help," Friedrich said. "Even the outs I was getting, I was falling behind the hitters. Same old story. I've got to get ahead of hitters and execute. Having a feel for all four pitches would help."
St. Louis stayed two games behind Miami for the National League's final wild-card spot, winning for just the 21st time in 49 home games.
The work of Leake, who prior to his start in Milwaukee was averaging just under four strikeouts per outing, was a big reason why.
"He was so good on the corners," Matheny said. "He was throwing darts today, putting it where he wants to."
NOTES: Former St. Louis scouting director Chris Correa was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison Monday for unlawful intrusions in the Houston Astros' database. Correa, who pled guilty to five charges on Jan. 8, must also pay restitution of $279,038.65 to the Astros. ... San Diego CF Melvin Upton, Jr. returned to the lineup after missing three games while on the bereavement list. INF Brett Wallace was placed on the paternity list to make room on the roster. ... Cardinals 3B Jhonny Peralta (left thumb), who left Sunday's game in the fifth inning, didn't start Monday.