Young hurler Shelby Miller tries to pitch the St. Louis Cardinals to a third straight victory on Wednesday night in the second contest of a three-game series against the struggling New York Mets.
Miller, a 2009 first-round pick, is coming off a win over Arizona on Thursday as he gave up a pair of runs -- both in the first inning -- before settling down to log six solid innings. He worked around six hits and did not walk a batter, striking out nine and setting down the final six batters faced.
The 22-year-old was staked to a 10-2 lead by the fourth inning and added to the offense with a home run the following frame.
Miller is 7-3 with a 1.91 earned run average in 12 outings this season and that includes his first ever start versus the Mets on May 15. The righty did not factor into a 4-2 win despite giving up just four hits over 5 2/3 scoreless innings. However, New York scored twice in the seventh frame to leave Miller without a decision.
Miller follows fellow rookie Michael Wacha, who picked up his first major league victory with Tuesday's 9-2 win. He recovered from a tough first inning to hold New York to a pair of runs over six innings of work.
Wacha also got plenty of support in the form of a five-run fifth inning. Allen Craig capped the big frame with a three-run homer, while David Freese went 2- for-4 in the game to push his hitting streak to 20 straight games. It is the longest active hitting streak in the majors.
St. Louis won for the fourth time in five games and owns the best record in baseball at 42-22.
"I think we're just a relentless group," said Craig. "When somebody has some success, the top of the lineup guys kind of feed off it and get that confidence going. We kind of just thrive off each other's success."
Things are moving in the opposite direction for the stumbling and recently reshuffled Mets, however. The team dropped their seventh game in eight contests and own the third-worst record (23-36) in all of baseball.
New York demoted struggling first baseman Ike Davis, as well as outfielder Mike Baxter and reliever Robert Carson, following the team's fifth straight loss to league-worst Miami on Sunday.
Seven of the Cardinals runs went unearned, including the five scored in the fateful fifth off Jeremy Hefner, who tossed six frames but was charged with six runs total. The Mets had just five hits.
Daniel Murphy, filling in at first for the recently demoted Davis, began the fifth with a throwing error on a Jon Jay grounder as the floodgates opened.
"We've got to catch the baseball, we've got to pitch better, we've got to hit better," said Mets manager Terry Collins. "It's pretty much the same stuff every night."
New York's lone victory in its past eight games belongs to Dillon Gee, who takes the mound tonight looking for a third straight winning start.
Gee or Hefner could be the odd-man out when prospect Zack Wheeler arrives from Triple-A Las Vegas, possibly as soon as this coming Tuesday. The right-handed Gee is not making the decision for New York easy, giving up just a run in each of his last two wins while striking out a total of 19 batters.
The 27-year-old stayed in the win column with a 10-1 rout in Washington last Wednesday. Gee worked seven innings and retired 11 of the final 12 batters faced, moving to 4-6 on the season with a 5.20 ERA that was sitting at 6.34 before his two recent wins.
"I can't be satisfied," Gee said on New York's website. "I've got to continue to do it. It feels good to do it again, give the team a chance to win, and the guys did an awesome job scoring a bunch of runs. Thankfully I was able to keep them there."
Gee is 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in three career starts versus the Cardinals, getting the loss on May 14. He was charged with five earned runs over just four innings of work.
St. Louis won three of four in that series from May 13-16 and has taken seven of the previous nine encounters overall.