On tap for Miller: Another flirtation with perfection?

ST. LOUIS (AP) — All eyes will be on Shelby Miller on Wednesday night when the rookie makes his first start since one of the best pitching performances in the history of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Miller looks to follow up his memorable last outing with another gem and lead the Cardinals to their 12th win in 14 games as he faces one of baseball’s worst-hitting teams in the New York Mets.

NL Central-leading St. Louis (25-13) made it two in a row over struggling New York (14-22) in this four-game series Tuesday, building a nine-run lead after five innings and cruising to a 10-4 victory.

Carlos Beltran had three hits – including his 10th homer – and four RBIs as the Cardinals provided plenty of run support for rookie John Gast, who won his major league debut.

“It’s fun, we’re playing good baseball,” Beltran said. “We’re getting good starting pitching and the offense is doing enough to win ballgames.”

While the Mets, who rank near the bottom of the majors with a .227 batting average, scored more than three runs for the first time in eight games, they lost their fifth straight overall and 11th in 14 games at Busch Stadium.

“We know we can score,” said outfielder Marlon Byrd, who hit his third homer in Tuesday’s loss. “We did in April. We just have to get back to that.”

It doesn’t figure to get any easier against Miller (5-2, 1.58 ERA), who ranks among the league leaders in ERA and leads a rotation atop the majors at 2.38.

After giving up a leadoff single in his last outing, the right-hander retired 27 in a row for his first career complete game in a 3-0 victory over Colorado on Friday. The one-hitter was the fewest hits allowed by a Cardinals pitcher since Bud Smith’s no-hitter on Sept. 3, 2001.

Miller struck out Eric Young Jr., who had the only hit, to end the game and matched a Cardinals rookie record with his 13th strikeout.

“It’s definitely the best game I’ve thrown in my life,” said Miller, who will make his first career start against the Mets. “How it finished was unbelievable. It was a great experience. It was a start I’ll remember the rest of my life.”

The Cardinals, though, may have to keep a close eye on their young hurler after he matched a career high with 113 pitches for the second time in three starts and has totaled 332 over his last three.

That hasn’t been a problem for scheduled starter Shaun Marcum (0-3, 8.59), who has yet to make it out of the fifth inning in each of his first three starts after beginning the season on the disabled list.

“I think Shaun tried to hurry through the rehab and get up here because he knew we needed help,” manager Terry Collins said. “I think we’ve got to run him out there again because, as I said the last start, he’s basically towards the end of spring training.”

Marcum is 0-3 with a 6.88 ERA in his last three starts against St. Louis, including two losses in the 2011 NLCS while with Milwaukee.

Matt Carpenter is 4 for 7 with three RBIs in this series, while Allen Craig is 4 for 8 with three RBIs.