Miller pitches Cardinals past Nationals

The SportsXchange

WASHINGTON -- The lights flickered and went out briefly in the office of Cardinals manager Mike Matheny as he addressed the media following a 3-2 win by St. Louis on Monday night against host Washington at Nationals Park.

"Should we keep going?" said Matheny, whose team was playing its first game in Washington since last October's dramatic playoff series win against the Nationals.

The St. Louis pitching staff certainly turned out the lights on Washington hitters, who had just five hits, including three singles, one day after the Nationals were shut out in New York by the Mets.

Pitcher Shelby Miller, 22, won another game as a rookie starter and catcher Yadier Molina drove in the game-winning run in the sixth before an announced crowd of 27,263 on a chilly evening.

The only runs for Washington came on RBI doubles by Ian Desmond and rookie Anthony Rendon in the fourth.

"I thought I threw the ball well," said Miller (3-1), who made just one start last season in the majors. "I felt good. I made one bad pitch to Desmond, a curve right down the middle. He is a great off-speed hitter."

"The fastball, he had a good feel," Matheny said of Miller. "The ball just comes out of his hands a little different. It is not 105 miles-per-hour but they have trouble (catching up to it)."

Edward Mujica came on in the last of the ninth out of the St. Louis bullpen and retired the side in order for his second save.

The Cardinals (11-8), in a rematch of last year's National League playoffs, won the first game of the series while the Nationals (10-9) lost their fourth game in a row at home. Washington starter Dan Haren fell to 1-3 after giving up three earned runs and three walks in five innings.

"The walks really frustrate me. The walks, it really irks me. It has been eating at me," Haren said of his slow start, which saw his ERA actually fall to 7.36 after his Monday outing. "It is going to turn around. I have to keep believing in myself."

"Well, I thought he threw the ball a lot better. He had good location, mixed his pitches up. Sixth-inning hitting (Matt) Holliday out of the chute -- just didn't finish it off. But I thought he pitched a good ball game," said Washington manager Davey Johnson.

The Cardinals took a 3-2 lead in the top of the sixth against starter Haren as Yadier Molina hit a single to right that scored Matt Holliday, who had led off with a hit by pitch.

David Freese, after the hit by Molina, singled to load the bases with no outs. That was the end of the night for Haren, who was replaced by Craig Stammen.

The right-handed reliever got Jon Jay to hit into a double play, with first baseman Adam LaRoche throwing home to force out Beltran and then catcher Kurt Suzuki fired to LaRoche to retire Jay for the second out. After an intentional walk to Pete Kozman, Stammen fanned pitcher Miller for the final out of the inning.

Miller allowed just four hits and two runs with eight strikeouts in 6 and 2/3 innings. He was replaced with runners on first and second with two outs in the last of the seventh by Joe Kelly, who retired pinch-hitter Chad Tracy on a flair to center that Jay caught while sliding toward the infield to preserve the 3-2 lead.

"Jay saved me with that catch," Miller said.

"Game-saving catch," Matheny said.

Trevor Rosenthal came on to pitch the last of the eighth for the Cardinals and got Desmond to strike out looking at a 98 miles-per-hour fastball to end a threat with runners on second and third.

Washington reliever Drew Storen, the victim of the ninth-inning comeback by the Cardinals in the playoffs last October, came on to pitch the top of the ninth with St. Louis ahead 3-2.

The first batter Storen faced was Kozma, the Game 5 hero last October. Kozma struck out looking on an 84 miles-per-hour curve by Storen, who got the next two batters to end the inning.

NOTES: Rendon made his first start at home for the Nationals. The third baseman was called up from Double-A Harrisburg after Ryan Zimmerman was placed on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. Rendon was hitless in four at-bats in his first big-league game Sunday at the Mets. "He is a young player with high promise. He had a great spring," said manager Davey Johnson. Rendon struck out in the second in his first Nationals Park at bat. ... Washington closer Rafael Soriano was placed on paternity leave and was not with the team after his wife gave birth to a boy. ... A moment of silence was held for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing and "Sweet Caroline" was played in the third inning as a tribute to Boston. ... Matt Adams of the Cardinals was originally in the starting lineup batting fifth and playing first base but he experienced some discomfort in his right side in early workouts, according to manager Mike Matheny, and began the game on the bench. Adams entered the game with an average of .524.
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