Shelby Miller wasn't nearly as efficient this time out, but he pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings and the Cardinals got three runs thank to mistakes by the Mets in a 4-2 win on Wednesday night at Busch Stadium.
The Cardinals got their second run after Mets third baseman David Wright inexplicably dropped the ball on an easy tag of Jon Jay in the fourth. Jay had just doubled in Matt Holliday and was caught between second and third when Wright dropped the ball after even Jay thought he was a goner. He scored on a single by Tony Cruz, filling in for Yadier Molina at catcher.
After the Mets had tied the game in the seventh on a two-run homer by Rick Ankiel off reliever Seth Maness, the first runs allowed by Maness this season, the Cardinals retook the lead in the bottom of the inning. A two-out walk to Daniel Descalso was followed by a single to center by Pete Kozma that sent Descalso to third. After a pitching change by the Mets, reliever Scott Rice threw a wild pitch to pinch hitter Ty Wigginton and Descalso jogged home with the go-ahead run.
Miller followed up his 27-straight-out performance in his previous game by striking out the first two hitters before giving up a single to Wright. Miller pitched out of jams in several innings, and came out with a runner on third and two out in sixth. Randy Choate came in to end the inning. Miller pitched 5 2/3 innings with four hits and six strikeouts. While his streak of consecutive batters retired ended at 29, he has pitched 14 consecutive scoreless innings. With a lot of foul balls, it made for a high pitch count for Miller, who came out after throwing 96 pitches. In the second inning, John Buck had a 12-pitch at-bat before getting a walk.
"Shelby was good," manager Mike Matheny said. "They had some pretty good at-bats off him, they kept fouling it off. There was a lot of them and it ran his count up and when he needed to make pitches he did. He used everything he had tonight."
"It was a battle out there for me," Miller said. "My fastball command wasn't near as good as it was in the last start and you don't really go out there expecting to be. It's not always going to be smooth. I was leaving it up in the zone and getting a lot of foul balls which was raising my pitch count up through the first three innings, kind of like I did early on in the year. I got away with some mistakes. It was a different feel to the game, I was throwing some changeups tonight."
The Cardinals added a run in the eighth. After a walk to Carlos Beltran, Holliday grounded into a force at second but the throw to first by second baseman Daniel Murphy was wild and Holliday ended up at second. After a walk to Allen Craig and a strikeout by Jay, Molina came up as a pinch hitter for Cruz and singled to center to drive in Holliday.
Edward Mujica pitched a 1-2-3 ninth and got his 11th save. Maness got the win to improve to 3-0, with three wins in the month of May, the most on the Cards' staff.
WILD PITCH PUTS CARDS BACK AHEAD
It didn't take long for the Cardinals to retake the lead.
After Rick Ankiel tied the game with a two-run homer in the top of the seventh, the Cardinals went back ahead in the bottom of the seventh. With two outs, Daniel Descalso walked and he went to third on a bloop single by Pete Kozma with the Mets outfield playing too deep. Scott Rice came into for starter Shaun Marcum to face pinch hitter Ty Wigginton. Rice threw a pitch in the dirt that got past catcher John Buck and Descalso jogged home with the go-ahead run.
ANKIEL HOMER TIES GAME
Just like old times. Rick Ankiel homered to left center in the seventh inning, tying the Mets' game with the Cardinals at 2-2 in the seventh.
Reliever Seth Maness came on after Randy Choate had retired Lucas Duda to start the inning. John Buck singled to left and then Ankiel, on a 3-2 pitch, hit his sixth home run of the season to deep left center to tie the game. The Cardinals outfielders barely moved. They were the first runs allowed this season by Maness. Maness gave up another single, to opposing pitcher Shaun Marcum, before retiring Mike Baxter to end the inning.
Shelby Miller came out with two out in the fifth. The Mets had a runner on third with one out and Miller struck out David Wright. Choate then came in to face Ike Davis and got him to ground out to end the inning. Miller pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out six, and now has 14 consecutive scoreless innings.
JAY DRIVES IN RUN, ERROR SETS UP ANOTHER
The Cardinals took a 2-0 lead on the Mets in the fourth thanks to a two-out RBI double by Jon Jay which ended with a fielding gaffe by third baseman David Wright that set up a second run.
Matt Holliday singled with one out and was still there after Allen Craig flew out to center. Jay then doubled in the gap in right center. Holliday scored and Jay rounded second and headed for third, but hit the brakes when the throw went to third because he wanted to be sure he wasn't tagged out before Holliday had scored. After hesitating, Jay went to third where Wright waited to tag him out. Jay practically conceded the out, but in making a slap tag, the ball came out of Wright's glove and Jay went easily to third. He then scored on a single by Tony Cruz to make ti 2-0.
METS END MILLER'S STREAK AT 29
Mets third baseman David Wright singled off Cardinals starter Shelby Miller in the first inning on Wednesday, snapping the pitcher's streak of consecutive batters retired at 29. The record for consecutive batters retired is 45 by Mark Buehrle.
Despite the single, Miller struck out the side in the first. One that seems unlikely tonight is a complete game for Miller. Through two innings, he's thrown 45 pitches, which puts him on pace to throw 196 pitches over nine innings. Unless he starts getting some Seth Maness-like innings, he'll be lucky to get past the fifth.
The Mets ran their way out of the inning in the second. With runners on first and second and one out, Ruben Tejada hit a line drive to center that Jon Jay caught and John Buck, the runner on second, was easily doubled off second. The Mets have gotten a hit in every inning. The Cardinals have one hit, a single by Daniel Descalso in the third. He finished the inning stranded on second.
With Miller throwing all these pitches, the game is not exactly moving briskly. Miller is averaging just under 6 pitches per hitter, and the first three innings took an hour, 10 minutes to complete. We're on pace for a 3 1/2-hour game, and no one has even scored yet.
It might be simplistic to say, but the big difference between this game and the last game for Miller could be that Yadier Molina was behind the plate for that one and Tony Cruz is there tonight.
MOLINA GETS DAY
What, no Yadier Molina?
Yes. For just the second time this season, catcher Yadier Molina is not in the starting lineup for the Cardinals on Wednesday as they face the New York Mets at Busch Stadium.
Molina started 37 of the Cardinals first 38 games, making Tony Cruz one of the least visible players in the National League. Cruz has appeared in just seven games this season, with one hit and one RBI in eight at-bats. Molina has appeared in more games than any other Cardinal. Carlos Beltran, Matt Carpenter, Allen Craig, Matt Holliday, Jon Jay and Pete Kozma have all appeared in 36 games and all are in the starting lineup tonight.
"We knew it was going to happen one of these days on this homestand," manager Mike Matheny said. "As it heats up, the heat beats on you behind the plate. We'll be keeping a close eye on him, but he's really felt good. Yesterday was one of the first days where it didn't look like everything was on timing wise as far as his swing goes, and that was it more than anything. Physically, he feels good, just trying to get a day to get himself back into a good rhythm."
Molina went 0 for 5 on Tuesday night and was the only Cardinal starter not to reach first. He's tied for sixth in the National League with 47 hits and is fourth in hitting at .331. The other game he didn't start was April 19.
Third baseman David Freese is also getting the day off. Matheny said it was matchup based, as well as giving Daniel Descalso a chance to start.
Rehabbing pitcher Chris Carpenter threw a short bullpen session before the game. His next big one will be Saturday.
Asked if John Gast would get another start after his impressive debut on Tuesday, Matheny said they were "moving in that direction." Gast's turn would come up again on Sunday against Milwaukee.
1. Carpenter 3b
2. Beltran rf
3. Holliday lf
4. Craig 1b
5. Jay cf
6. Cruz c
7. Descalso 2b
8. Kozma ss
9. Miller p
1. Baxter rf
2. Murphy 2b
3. Wright 3b
4. Davis 1b
5. Duda lf
6. Buck c
7. Ankiel cf
8. Tejada ss
9. Marcum p