ST. LOUIS -- For the time being, one of the few concerns about the St. Louis Cardinals has been quelled.
Rookie right-hander Shelby Miller bounced back from a series of inconsistent starts to throw six scoreless innings Tuesday night as St. Louis bagged a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies at sold-out Busch Stadium.
In his first outing since muddling through a no-decision July 10 against Houston, Miller (10-6) allowed just three hits and a walk while fanning six. He threw 62 of his 85 pitches for strikes in posting his first win since July 3.
"This was way better," Miller said. "I felt like we had good control and good pace out there. That was a difference-maker. I felt like I could throw a strike any time I wanted."
That wasn't the case in his last start, when Miller walked five and needed 94 pitches to complete five innings. The Cardinals gave him 13 days between starts, not just because of the All-Star break, but to provide extra rest and control his innings so that he's still relatively fresh for the homestretch.
The combination of down time, an extra side session or two in the bullpen and refining his mechanics served as quite an elixir. In this start, Miller resembled the pitcher who carried an ERA of less than 2.00 into June.
"I was real excited to see him back in form," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "He was more efficient than in most of his starts recently. More than anything else, it was his fastball command that was impressive. He established it early, and it opened doors for him."
And closed almost every door on the Phillies (49-51), who lost for the third straight time and missed a chance to draw within six games of the first-place Atlanta Braves -- a 4-1 loser at the New York Mets -- in the National League East.
Philadelphia put two on with one out in the first against Miller, but Domonic Brown bounced into a 6-3 double play. The Phillies got no one else into scoring position against Miller until Jimmy Rollins doubled with one out in the sixth, but Rollins was stranded at third on Chase Utley's inning-ending flyout.
"We've got to find a way to make our hard work pay off," Phillies right fielder Delmon Young said. "We could have done a better job of getting better pitches to hit. It's frustrating because we could have cut our deficit down."
Four relievers picked up the last nine outs for St. Louis (60-37), with Edward Mujica working around two singles in the ninth for his 29th save in 31 tries. The Cardinals maintained a 1 1/2-game lead in the National League Central over the Pittsburgh Pirates, a 5-1 winner in Washington.
Allen Craig delivered two hits and two RBIs for the Cardinals, including a run-scoring single in the bottom of the seventh. That boosted him into a tie for the National League RBI lead with Paul Goldschmidt (Arizona) and Brandon Phillips (Cincinnati) with 79.
Jonathan Pettibone (5-4) absorbed the loss for the Phillies, yielding seven hits, three walks and three runs over five innings.
Philadelphia scored its only run in the seventh when John Mayberry Jr. drilled a two-out double to the wall in left-center, driving in Darin Ruf.
St. Louis got on the board in the first inning on Craig's fielder's choice. The grounder scored Matt Carpenter, who led off with a single, moved to second on a Jon Jay single and reached third on Carlos Beltran's fielder's choice.
The Cardinals plated two more in the fourth on four straight hits. Craig and Yadier Molina doubled down the left field line on consecutive pitches to make it 2-0. Matt Adams singled Molina to third, and David Freese punched an RBI single to right.
St. Louis stranded 10 men, but it still produced more than enough with Miller back in form.
"I had command of my curve, and it was better with fastball command to go with it," Miller said. "When you have it all working, you can go through a lineup quicker."
NOTES: St. Louis LF Matt Holliday ran full speed through the outfield during batting practice and said he could play if he were eligible to come off the disabled list. Holliday, who strained his right hamstring July 11 in a game at Chicago against the Cubs, can return from the DL Saturday in Atlanta ... Philadelphia placed LHP Joe Savery (left elbow stiffness) on the DL and called up LHP Raul Valdes from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Savery is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA in 13 innings over 10 outings. ... Cardinals RHP Chris Carpenter is halting his rehab assignment after feeling numbness in his right hand during Saturday night's outing with Triple-A Memphis. Carpenter gave up 15 hits and seven runs (six earned) over six innings in two minor league starts last week.