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Cards' Miller finally earns win against Pirates

The SportsXchange

ST. LOUIS -- It all depends on one's viewpoint.

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Shelby Miller said his defense made great plays and that he did a good job of mixing up his pitches.

Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen said Miller was lucky.

Either way, Miller finally beat the Pirates after losing his first five starts against them, working 5 2/3 scoreless innings Friday night to earn a 1-0 win at Busch Stadium.

Miller (2-2), who walked four and struck out four, gave up nine homers and pitched to a 5.93 ERA in his previous five starts against Pittsburgh.

Aided by better movement on his pitches and a couple of well-timed double plays, including a diving stop by shortstop Jhonny Peralta on a one-hop rocket by McCutchen for an inning-ending twin-killing with the bases loaded in the third, Miller finally cracked the code against his nemesis.

"I'm excited to win in general, but obviously, I've had trouble against Pittsburgh," Miller said. "That's a great lineup which isn't easy to get out. It's good to get one against them."

The bullpen picked up the last 10 outs, although not without a nervy eighth inning from Carlos Martinez. He fanned third baseman Pedro Alvarez and backup catcher Chris Stewart with the bases loaded and one out to quell the Pirates' last chance.

Pirates starting catcher Russell Martin left the game in the sixth when he suffered tightness in his left hamstring running out an inning-ending grounder to third.

Closer Trevor Rosenthal whiffed the side in the ninth for his seventh save in as many chances as the Cardinals (13-11) opened a six-game homestand with just their third win in eight games.

"Shelby made great pitches when he had to," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "When you win games like this, it's nice. The pitchers are doing a great job of giving us a chance to win."

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh (9-15) lost for the 12th time in 15 games and was held under four runs for the 14th time in 24 games. Coupled with Milwaukee's 5-2 win over the Chicago Cubs, this latest defeat dropped the Pirates 8 1/2 games behind the Brewers in the NL Central.

McCutchen said Miller didn't do anything differently in this game from his first five starts against Pittsburgh.

"Can't pinpoint anything," McCutchen said. "We hit a couple of shots that went right at people, really. If they go the other way, we're sitting pretty with a 4-1 lead. He just had some things go his way."

The Cardinals managed the game's only run in the bottom of the first. Third baseman Matt Carpenter push-bunted a single down the third base line on the first pitch from Gerrit Cole (2-2), moved to second on a groundout and scored on a double to right by left fielder Matt Holliday.

Cole worked out of jams continually to keep his team close, stranding nine men in his seven innings. He allowed six hits, walked three and struck out four.

But St. Louis, which has scored just 14 runs over the last eight games, made the run stick with pitching and defense.

"The pitchers are doing what they are supposed to do," Matheny said. "We know the offense is going to come around."

NOTES: Pittsburgh RHP Jason Grilli (strained left oblique) was unavailable Friday night, although he was not placed on the disabled list, as multiple media outlets reported. Grilli has blown three of seven save chances this year and owns a 4.50 ERA. ... St. Louis RHP Adam Wainwright has been cleared to start in Sunday's series finale against the Pirates. Wainwright hyperextended his right knee while trying to field a ball in the seventh inning of his 3-0 win Tuesday night against the New York Mets. ... Cardinals SS Jhonny Peralta was back in the lineup on Friday night after getting the day off Thursday in order to work on his swing and review video. He broke an 0-for-22 skid in the fourth with a double to left.
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