The Cardinals pull ahead in Game 6 with a big third inning

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Post-season legend Carlos Beltran staked the Cardinals to an early lead in the top of the third with a line drive RBI single to center against Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw. The opportunity was set up by Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter, who worked an 11-pitch at-bat — including seven consecutive foul balls — against Kershaw before lacing a double down the right field line. Beltran went ahead in the count 2-1 before taking a fastball back up the middle. He advanced to second on the play.

After Matt Holliday struck out, Yadier Molina kept the rally going, lining a Kershaw curve to left-center for an RBI single, pushing the Cardinal lead to 2-0. Kershaw then fell behind David Freese, who singled up the middle. Matt Adams drew a walk to load the bases. Shane Robinson — starting in place of the besieged Jon Jay — hit a seeing-eye single to right field, scoring Molina to push it to 4-0.

The Cardinals made Kershaw labor in the third, seeing a total of 48 pitches. They saw 18 and 15 pitches in the first and second innings, respectively. The Dodgers certainly didn’t expect their ace to need 81 pitches to get through three innings.

With a 3-2 series lead in the NLCS, the Cardinals are enjoying how Game 6 has gone thus far.

Mike Leake loses perfect game bid on leadoff single in the ninth

Mike Leake
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Just one week after Taylor Cole and Felix Peña tossed a combined no-hitter against Seattle, Mariners right-hander Mike Leake worked on his own perfect game through eight innings against the Angels.

It was an ambitious form of revenge, and one that Leake served up perfectly as he held the Angels scoreless in frame after frame. He sprinkled a handful of strikeouts throughout the first eight innings, catching Matt Thaiss on a called strike three in the third and getting two whiffs — called strikeouts against both Brian Goodwin and Shohei Ohtani — in the fourth.

The Mariners, meanwhile, put up a good fight against the Angels, backing Leake’s attempt with 10 runs — their first double-digit total since a 13-3 rout of the Orioles on June 23. Daniel Vogelbach led things off in the fourth with a three-run homer off of reliever Jaime Barria, then repeated the feat with another three-run shot off Barria in the fifth. Tom Murphy and J.P. Crawford helped pad the lead as well with a two-RBI single and two-RBI double, respectively.

In the ninth, with just three outs remaining, the Angels finally managed to break through. Luis Rengifo worked a 1-1 count against Leake, then returned an 85.3-m.p.h. changeup to right field for a base hit, dismantling the perfecto and the no-hitter in one fell swoop. Leake lost control of the ball following the hit, issuing four straight balls to Kevan Smith in the next at-bat and giving the Angels their first runner in scoring position. Still at a pitch count of just 90, however, he induced the next two outs in quick fashion and polished off the win with a triumphant eight-pitch strikeout against Mike Trout for the first one-hitter (and Maddux) of his career.

Had Leake successfully closed out the perfecto, it would’ve been the first of his decade-long career in the majors and the first the Mariners had seen since Félix Hernández’s perfect game against the Rays in August 2012. For their part, the Angels have yet to be on the losing end of a perfecto. The last time they were shut out in a no-hitter was 1999, at the hands of then-Twins pitcher Eric Milton.