The St. Louis Cardinals are hoping Shelby Miller 's extended break will pay dividends down the road.
These rookie right-handers open a three-game series Tuesday night in St. Louis, where the Phillies have enjoyed some recent success.
Miller (9-6, 2.92 ERA) will pitch for the first time since allowing three runs over five innings without a decision in a 5-4 victory over Houston on July 10. He is third on the Cardinals (59-37) with 104 2-3 innings."If you look at it, it's pretty smart," Miller said. "I don't know innings-wise, but the most I've thrown hasn't been a ton in my career. I'm over 100 now and I'm trying to get to 180 or so this year not including whatever we do in the postseason, so I think it's just more precautionary and a smart play."
St. Louis wants to ensure the 22-year-old, who is 5-2 with a 1.93 ERA in nine home outings, will be fresh for an expected deep run in the postseason.
"I think we've all been very clear about having Shelby get as much time as he can and trying to be smart with a young player," manager Mike Matheny said. "He's chomping at the bit to get back out there and that's the way it should be."
Miller, who is 2-0 with a 2.33 ERA in his three starts with at least six days' rest, threw two side sessions in Chicago before the All-Star break and had another one Friday.
He has never faced the Phillies (49-50) and counterpart Pettibone (5-3, 3.89) has never faced the Cardinals.
Pettibone is 2-0 with a 2.79 ERA over his last five starts, yielding one homer over 29 innings. He has posted a 5.65 road ERA compared to a 2.68 home mark.
While St. Louis owns the NL's best record and seems likely to gain a third straight postseason berth, Philadelphia faces sizable gaps in the NL East and wild-card race.
"I feel that everybody's bunched in there and if we were to put together a streak, you definitely can better your position and have a chance," manager Charlie Manuel said. "I believe that. It's up to us to play better and do better."
These teams split four games in Philadelphia in April, and the Phillies have won six of nine in St. Louis - including the playoffs.
The Cardinals are averaging just under five runs per game to lead the NL thanks to clutch hitting evidenced by a major league-best .338 average with runners in scoring position - which would mark the best by any club since 1974.
Allen Craig leads the majors in that department at .489 - which would better former Kansas City star George Brett 's .469 mark in 1980 that is currently the highest since 1974. Craig has reached base in 17 straight games, batting .413 with 15 RBIs.
St. Louis has won seven of its last eight at home, taking two of three from San Diego this past weekend.
The Phillies are trying to avoid their first three-game slide since losing five in a row June 7-12.
These clubs are both 10-4 on Tuesdays.
|July 14, 2013||Ben Revere||15-Day DL||Broken right foot - out 6-8 weeks|
|July 13, 2013||Ben Revere||Day-to-Day||Broken right foot|
|July 06, 2013||Ryan Howard||15-Day DL||Left knee inflammation|
|June 24, 2013||Ryan Howard||Day-to-Day||Knee|
|June 23, 2013||Michael Stutes||15-Day DL||Right biceps tendinitis|
|June 22, 2013||Jonathan Pettibone||Day-to-Day||Back|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|July 12, 2013||Matt Holliday||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|July 11, 2013||Matt Holliday||Day-to-Day||Left game - right hamstring|
|July 02, 2013||Matt Holliday||Day-to-Day||Stiff neck/back|
|May 26, 2013||John Gast||15-Day DL||Left shoulder tightness|
|May 26, 2013||Carlos Beltran||Day-to-Day||Left shoulder soreness|
|May 25, 2013||John Gast||Day-to-Day||Left game - left shoulder tightness|
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- All St. Louis rookie Shelby Miller needed was a little time off.
Miller, starting for the first time in 12 days, threw six shutout innings and Allen Craig drove in a pair of runs to lead the Cardinals to a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday night.
Miller (10-6) broke out of a three-start slump with one of his finest efforts of the season. He had given up 10 earned runs in 12 2-3 innings over his previous three starts. But he bounced back strong against the Phillies surrendering three hits while striking out six and walking one. He is the third St. Louis starter to reach double-digits in wins joining Adam Wainwright (13-5) and Lance Lynn (11-5).
"The biggest thing for me was to clear my head and get back to where I need to be," Miller said. "I just relaxed and threw out there. I got some time away, got time to work on some mechanics and get things straightened away."
Miller threw 85 pitches, 62 for strikes. He set the side down in order in three innings and allowed two runners to reach in just one frame.
"We're real excited to see Shelby get back to the form that he was earlier in the year," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "He made some nice adjustments since his last start."
Miller went 7-3 with a 1.91 ERA over his first 12 starts this season before slowing down. He struggled mightily in his previous three contests.
But the time off appeared to work wonders. Miller missed just one start, but because of the All-Star Break he went almost two weeks without an appearance.
"I did a pretty good job of getting ahead in the count, that was the difference-maker tonight," Miller said. "I felt like we had a really good control of the game. We were at a really good pace."
Miller improved to 3-0 with a 1.78 ERA on more than six days rest this season.
Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said Miller's attack mentality was the key to his success.
"He challenged us at times," Manuel said. "He's got a good arm and a big fastball."
Thanks to Miller's bounce-back effort, the Cardinals have won four of five and 10 of 13. Philadelphia lost its third straight game.
Edward Mujica picked up his 29th save in 31 opportunities. Randy Choate , Seth Maness and Trevor Rosenthal followed Miller to the mound.
Yadier Molina and David Freese also drove in runs for the Cardinals, who remain 1.5 games ahead of Pittsburgh in the NL Central.
Craig and Molina hit back-to-back doubles off Philadelphia starter Jonathan Pettibone in a two-run fourth. Freese followed with a run-scoring single to push the lead to 3-0.
Craig, who added a run-scoring single in the seventh, has a team leading 79 RBI and is hitting .335.
"We just did an awesome job of getting on base and getting into scoring position," Craig said. "I put the ball in play, had a couple of good at bats, and was able to get the job done."
Craig is hitting a major league-best .490 with runners in scoring position.
"He's done some impressive things, he's definitely for real," Matheny said. "People are starting to notice."
Pettibone (5-4) allowed three runs on seven hits over five innings. He has given up three runs or fewer in his last six starts.
"A couple of innings I ran into some trouble with some balls up," Pettibone said. "But that's a tough lineup. They were patient early on."
St. Louis jumped to a 1-0 lead in the first on singles by Matt Carpenter and Jon Jay and a ground out by Craig.
The Phillies only two-runner threat against Miller came in the first. Michael Young walked with one out and Chase Utley followed with a single. Miller then got Domonic Brown to ground into an inning-ending double play.
John Mayberry Jr. doubled in Darin Ruf in the seventh to trim the deficit to 3-1.
Utley had three hits. He is eight for his last 16.
Notes: Jake Westbrook (6-4, 2.88) will face John Lannan (2-3, 3.76) in the second game of the three-game set on Wednesday. ... Manuel has 996 career wins. ... The Phillies have spent just 12 days at or above .500 this season. ... OF Jay, in center, has gone a franchise-record 240 games without an error. His last miscue came Aug. 24, 2011. ... Philadelphia is 10-7 in July and has won four of five series. ... Phillies OF/INF Laynce Nix is in an 0 for 12 slump after striking out as a pinch-hitter in the sixth.