Miller leads the Cardinals to 1-0 win over the Pirates
ST. LOUIS — Shelby Miller turned things around against his nemesis — with some help from his friends.
The St. Louis Cardinals right hander pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings to lead his team to a 1-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates Friday night.
That outing was in complete contrast to Miller’s history vs. Pittsburgh. Miller (2-2) entered the game with a 0-5 record and a 5.93 ERA against the Pirates. He allowed just three hits and four walks while striking out four.
"I’m excited to get a win in general" Miller said. "But, obviously, I’ve struggled against Pittsburgh and they’re a tough team. They’re lineup’s great and they got good starting pitching and a good offense. They’re not easy to get out.
"That’s the first one against them. It’s good to get it out of the way."
MIller said that he made just a few subtle changes, but they paid off.
"I found some back door cutters," he said. "I ended going in a little bit more on righties and just kind of mixing it up a little differently."
Pat Neshek, Kevin Siegrist, Carlos Martinez and Kevin Rosenthal followed Miller and preserved the shutout. Rosenthal struck out the side in the ninth for his seventh save in seven chances.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny wished his pitchers had some margin for error.
"You kind of hate to keep doing that to these guys, having to be perfect," Matheny said. "The bullpen did a terrific job."
Matt Holliday had three hits, a walk and drove in the only run with a first-inning double. Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina singled in the eighth inning to extend his hitting streak to 15 games, matching his career high set in 2007.
Pirates starter Gerrit Cole (2-2) pitched seven innings and allowed a run on six hits with three walks and four strikeouts.
The Pirates lost for the seventh time in nine tries. Pittsburgh has won just three of its last 12 games.
"We knew there would be challenges coming into the season," said Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle. "We’re getting to face our fair share of them in April. You just keep mounting up and you keep playing."
St. Louis got the only run it would need in the first. Matt Carpenter led off with a bunt single down the third baseline and he went to second on Jon Jay’s fielder’s choice to first. Holliday then doubled to right, scoring Carpenter.
"The guy has been playing for 15 years, he knows what he’s doing," Cole said of Holliday.
Pittsburgh had Miller on the ropes in the third, as singles by Cole and Jose Tabata and a walk to Neil Walker loaded the bases. But Miller got Andrew McCutchen to hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
In the eighth, Pittsburgh had runners on first and third with no one out against Martinez after pinch hitter Starling Marte was hit by a pitch and Tabata singled him to third. Martinez got Marte hung up on a fielder’s choice back to him for the first out. After an intentional walk to McCutchen, Martinez struck out Pedro Alvarez and Chris Stewart to end the threat.
"I don’t know if you can get much tougher," Matheny said. "You look at where we were in that lineup and how we got there. He’s done that a couple of times now, where he’s just been able to focus in and get the job done."
NOTES: Pittsburgh’s Francisco Liriano (0-3) will try to get in the victory column when he opposes Tyler Lyons (0-1) in the second game of the series Saturday. … Cardinals shortstop Jhonny Peralta snapped an 0-for-22 streak with a fourth inning double. … Pittsburgh catcher Russell Martin left the game after grounding out in the fifth with tightness in his left hamstring. … This series is the last three games of a 26-game stretch against Central Division opponents to open the season for the Pirates.