Shelby Miller retired the last 27 batters Friday night, finishing with a one-hitter. A day later, the St. Louis Cardinals rookie sat in the dugout and watched Adam Wainwright nearly top that feat.
Wainwright pitched no-hit ball into the eighth inning and finished with a two-hitter Saturday against the suddenly punchless Colorado Rockies in a 3-0 victory.
”I thought for sure he was going to throw a no-hitter,” the 22-year-old Miller said. ”He was locked in. We both threw well and his was exciting to watch, especially.”
Wainwright doesn’t mind getting pushed by the team’s electric fifth starter who’s 5-2 with a 1.58 ERA.
”You follow Roger Clemens a couple times like I have been, it makes you focus a little bit more,” Wainwright said. ”Once you see Shelby mow through a lineup like he has all year, you want to go out there and do it, too.
”Those guys will think there’s a new sheriff in town,” Wainwright added.
The Rockies had been hitless in 49 consecutive at-bats before Nolan Arenado lined a clean hit to center field with one out in the eighth. Eric Young led off Friday night’s game with a broken-bat single off Miller then failed to put a runner on until Todd Helton walked with one out in the fifth inning a day later.
”I’m just trying to hit the ball hard,” Arenado said. ”I knew he wanted to get ahead with a strike and he threw one down and away. I got pretty lucky, I guess.”
The 49 at-bats is the longest hitless stretch since Sept. 25-27, 1981, when the Los Angeles Dodgers went 50 at-bats without a knock, according to STATS.
”I thought we were going to witness something pretty special,” manager Mike Matheny said. ”You could see him finishing that off.
”What a great couple of days,” Matheny said.
After the hit, Wainwright (5-2) doffed his cap in appreciation during a prolonged standing ovation from a sellout crowd of 43,050, then quickly retired the next two hitters. He gave up a two-out single to Dexter Fowler in the ninth and matched his career best with a two-hitter.
”About the third or fourth inning, I could tell he was throwing everything for a strike and was doing whatever he wanted to do,” right fielder Allen Craig said. ”You just never know how it’s going to go from there, but that was a lot of fun to be out there.
”He was close. Maybe next time,” added Craig.
Wainwright struck out seven for his second shutout of the season and sixth of his career. The Rockies have been shut out for 26 consecutive innings since Carlos Gonzalez hit a first-inning sacrifice fly against the Yankees on Thursday, and have had just one runner in scoring position the first two games of the series.
The Rockies entered Saturday as the highest-scoring team in the National League. Manager Walt Weiss wasn’t planning a meeting.
”You leave it alone,” Weiss said. ”You know, everyone gets beat up a little bit in this game at some point, but our guys will keep grinding and we’ll to come out and try to turn it around (Sunday).”
Craig had three hits and a sacrifice fly and Yadier Molina had two hits and an RBI for the Cardinals, who have won nine of 10 and are a major league-best 23-12.
Wainwright has won five of his last six starts, recapturing his form as the staff ace in his second season coming off reconstructive elbow surgery. He has thrown a pair of two-hitters, the last on Aug. 6, 2010 at Florida.
Wainwright bounced back from his lone poor outing when he gave up five runs in 5 1/3 innings at Milwaukee his last time out. He’s 5-1 against the Rockies.
”I wanted to get back to the basics after the last start,” Wainwright said. ”I wanted to attack the strike zone right away. Keep it simple, that was my focus today.”
Wainwright and Miller retired 40 consecutive batters with 18 strikeouts before Helton walked. He was stranded when Arenado fouled out and Reid Brignac grounded out.
All things appeared headed toward the no-hitter after Matt Carpenter made a sliding stab of a grounder about 10 feet onto the outfield grass behind second base for the first out in the eighth. Wainright smiled broadly at the play. Arenado, though, then singled.
The Cardinals loaded the bases with one out in the second and fourth, both times with the eighth and ninth-place hitter coming up. Both times, Jhoulys Chacin (3-2) escaped by striking out Pete Kozma and Wainwright.
They loaded them again in the fifth on singles by Carpenter, Jon Jay and Matt Holliday and took the lead on Craig’s sacrifice fly, with Matt Adams adding a two-out RBI single.
Matt Holliday, Craig and Molina hit consecutive singles off Josh Outman in the seventh to make it 3-0.
The Cardinals haven’t thrown a no-hitter since Bud Smith at San Diego in 2001, and haven’t had one at home since Bob Forsch threw the second of his career on Sept. 26, 1983, against the Expos.
Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki have each struck out five times the first two games.
Carlos Beltran, 1 for 8 with double-play balls against Chacin, was not in the lineup. … Lefty Jaime Garcia (4-1, 2.25) faces Jorge De La Rosa (3-3, 3.52) in the series finale Sunday. .. Chacin’s comebacker to end the third ended a string of eight straight strikeouts by the pitcher’s spot on both teams to start the series. … At the start of Miller’s one-hitter on Friday, the Rockies’ 3-4-5 hitters took eight consecutive called strikes. … Michael Cuddyer missed his third consecutive game with neck stiffness.