Preview: Cards getting big-time production from big-time players

NEW YORK (AP) — The St. Louis Cardinals are backing up the best record in baseball with outstanding hitting.

Shelby Miller continues to do his part on the mound.

A trio of Cardinals look to continue pounding the ball and help Miller win a third straight start Wednesday night against the struggling New York Mets.

St. Louis (42-22) is batting an NL-best .277 to accompany its major league-leading 3.17 ERA.

Miller (7-3, 1.91 ERA) has been a big part of that in his first full season in the majors, ranking second in the league in ERA behind the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw (1.88).

The right-hander hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of his 12 starts, yielding no earned runs five times. That includes tossing 5 2-3 scoreless innings before leaving without a decision in a 4-2 win over the Mets on May 15.

Miller has won his last two stats, allowing two runs in 13 innings with 16 strikeouts.

“All together we’re just trying to find ways to win games and (manager Mike Matheny) is throwing out the best guys to do that,” Miller told the team’s official website. “It’s working right now, and that’s a result of a total team effort – it’s not just one or two guys. And that’s just what it’s going to take this season.”

Matt Holliday, David Freese and Allen Craig are providing a fair share of the offense.

Holliday has a .438 average with eight RBIs and 12 runs over the past eight games. He had three hits and scored three times in Tuesday’s 9-2 win at New York (23-36) in the opener of this three-game series.

Freese has a career-high 20-game hitting streak, longest in the majors this season. The third baseman has a .382 average during that stretch after getting two hits Tuesday.

Craig also had two hits, including a three-run homer to give him a .409 average with runners in scoring position. He’s hit safely in 13 of the last 14 games, batting .373 during that span.

“Their lineup is a test,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “They hit to all fields. They hit to all fields with power. They stay focused pitch after pitch.”

New York has dropped seven of eight, but Dillon Gee (4-6, 5.20) was credited with the only win in that span – 10-1 at Washington last Wednesday.

The right-hander looks to win a third straight start after yielding two runs with 19 strikeouts and one walk in 14 1-3 innings of his last two. That’s a dramatic improvement after he went 0-2 with an 8.36 ERA in the previous three outings.

“I can’t be satisfied,” Gee said. “I’ve got to continue to do it. It feels good to do it again, give the team a chance to win.”

The right-hander failed to do that at St. Louis on May 14, surrendering six runs in four innings of a 10-4 defeat.

Gee may be in for another tough test since a pair of rainouts pushed his next scheduled appearance back. He’s 0-4 with a 5.46 ERA in five starts when he’s had six days of rest or more over the last two seasons.

Holliday, Freese and Craig are a combined 7 for 16 against Gee over the last two seasons.