A Cardinals starter pitched scoreless ball for the third straight game tonight, extending that string of zeroes to 20 2/3, as rookie Shelby Miller, who worked the first 6 2/3 innings, and three relievers stopped the Milwaukee Brewers, 4-2, at Busch Stadium.
One of the relievers, rookie Trevor Rosenthal, racked up three more strikeouts in the eighth inning, setting a Cardinals club record for a pitcher employed exclusively as a reliever at 96. Diego Segui had 93 strikeouts in 1973. Mark Littell had 130 in 1978 but started two games.
More significantly, the Cardinals won their fourth straight game and their 11th in 14 meetings with the Brewers as they held onto their one-game lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League Central Division.
Milwaukee rookie Wily Peralta held the Cardinals hitless for 5 2/3 innings before Matt Holliday hit his 19th homer, a two-run, 424-foot drive, with out in the sixth.
Leadoff man Matt Carpenter singled to drive in his 70th run in the seventh and Matt Adams singled in another in the eighth.
Miller, raising his record to 13-9, allowed four singles and a double while throwing 108 pitches. His effort follwed back-to-back seven-inning scoreless outings by Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha, both of whom allowed two hits.
The shutout evaporated in the ninth when Edward Mujica allowed a pinch-hit, two-run homer to Logan Schafer.
MILLER CONTINUES STREAK
There’s a pattern developing here. For the third straight game, a Cardinals starting pitcher took a shutout into the seventh inning.
On Saturday, Adam Wainwright worked seven scoreless innings, allowing two hits. That feat was duplicated, precisely, the next day by Michael Wacha.
Another rookie, Shelby Miller, nearly made it a trifecta tonight at Busch Stadium. Dominating the Milwaukee Brewers as he has all season, the righthander blanked the Brewers on five hits for 6 2/3 innings before being lifted after 108 pitches for lefthander Kevin Siegrist, who fanned Norichika Aoki to end the seventh.
Miller has begrudged the Brewers only three runs in 25 innings over four starts this year.
The Cardinals thus maintained their 2-0 edge, an advantage built on their only hit to that point, Matt Holliday’s two-run homer off Wily Peralta in the sixth.
But they added a run on two more hits in the seventh to stretch the lead to 3-0. Matt Adams singled with one out and went to second on a wild pitch. Pinch hitter Kolten Wong walked and Matt Carpenter knocked in his 70th run of the season with a looping single to right center.
Holliday makes Cards' first hit count
The Cardinals didn’t get their first hit tonight until the sixth inning. But it was a resounding one.
Matt Holliday, who had spent much of the night writhing on the ground after fouling balls off both his feet, elevated one in the sixth. He ripped his 19th homer 424 feet to left center with two out in the inning following a Wily Peralta walk to Matt Carpenter with one out and the Cardinals took a 2-0 lead over the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium.
Shelby Miller, who already had beaten Milwaukee twice this year, blanked the Brewers on five hits over the first six innings.
Peralta no-hits Cards through five
Milwaukee righthander Wily Peralta, who had been lambasted for 12 earned runs in just 9 1/3 innings against the Cardinals this season, was far better than that tonight for the first six innings at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals had no runs. And no hits.
Cardinals righthander Shelby Miller, a rookie himself, blanked the Brewers on four hits over the same time and the game went scoreless into the top of the seventh.
Milwaukee right fielder Norichika Aoki made a dazzling, sliding catch on David Freese to preserve the no-hitter in the fifth.
Rookies scoreless throug four
Shelby Miller, who had a 1.47 earned run average against the Milwaukee Brewers for his first three starts this season, blanked Milwaukee for the first four innings tonight at Busch Stadium. But so, too, did fellow righthanded rookie Wily Peralta shut out the Cardinals for the first four frames with a lot less resistance.
Miller had to pitch out of a bases-loaded spot in the second, retiring Peralta on a groundout to end the inning after center fielder Jon Jay had helped earlier in the inning with a sliding catch to deprive Carlos Gomez of a hit. Jay also made a running grab in front of right fielder Carlos Beltran for the final out in the fourth, stranding a runner at second.
Peralta, who had an 11.57 ERA against the Cardinals for two starts this season, retired the first seven men to face him, striking out five of them. Pete Kozma reached base in the third with one out when first baseman Jonathan Lucroy, a converted catcher, dropped a throw from third baseman Aramis Ramirez as Lucroy was stabbing for the bag.
Miller bunted into a forceout as shortstop Jean Segura managed to hang onto Peralta’s throw as a sliding Kozma upended him. Matt Carpenter then grounded into a forceout.
Matheny keeps same lineup
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny is repeating his eight-man batting order tonight for the first time since Aug. 23-24.
That means Pete Kozma, who has four hits in his last three games, is at shortstop for a third straight start. But Matheny said that Daniel Descalso, a lefthanded hitter who has tailed off the last month, also will get starts at short.
"I still see Daniel Descalso being a big part of what we’re doing," said Matheny.
The Milwaukee Brewers will provide the opposition for rookie Shelby Miller and the Cardinals.
Miller has had trouble with cramping on nights that weren’t as hot as this one will be and Matheny said, "He had an assignment yesterday to take in as much water as possible,"
Wily Peralta will be the Milwaukee starter and both Kozma and third baseman David Freese are three for five against the righthander. Second baseman Matt Carpenter is four for six.
Injured first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig is also three for five off Peralta but won’t be in the series because of his sprained left foot.
"He seems to be progressing well, but still no timetable," said Matheny. "It’s going to be a little time."
The Cardinals will take the field at Busch Stadium one game ahead of second-place Pittsburgh and two clear of third-place Cincinnati in the National League Central Division race.
For the first time in more two weeks, the Cardinals won’t be playing one team or the other, so there is opportunity for more extensive scoreboard watching.
Matheny said, "I try not to, but I fall guilty every once in a while. That’s what I’d like to see us all do (not scoreboard watch), but I know that’s not reasonable to ask because I want them to enjoy it.
"I told them, ‘Don’t take these opportunities for granted when you’re in the second week of September and you’re right in the thick of things. Don’t be so arrogant to think this is always going to happen. These are special times.’’’