Miller time: Cards turn to young hurler vs. Mets

Shelby Miller has been a pleasant surprise for the St. Louis Cardinals this season and looks to build on his last start Wednesday in the third test of a four-game series versus the New York Mets.

In a 3-0 win over Colorado on Friday, the young Miller allowed a leadoff hit and settled down to retire the next 27 batters. The impressive performance was highlighted by 13 strikeouts and Miller notched the first shutout of his career, while improving to 5-2 in seven starts with a 1.58 earned run average.

"This was definitely the best game I've ever thrown," Miller said of his one- hitter. "This was a start I'll remember for the rest of my life."

Miller, a right-hander, seeks a repeat performance against a Mets team he has faced once in relief. He has allowed one run in his last two starts (15 innings) and is 2-1 in three home outings this season.

Cardinals hurler John Gast made his major league debut in Tuesday's 10-4 drubbing of the Mets, sending the visitors to their fifth straight loss. Gast did allow four runs and six hits in six innings, but benefited from a deluge of runs to win. Mets manager Terry Collins noticed Gast's potential.

"Obviously his command was outstanding with all his pitches," Collins said. "He worked both sides of the plate with his fastball, used his change-up very effectively."

Carlos Beltran went 3-for-5 with a home run, four RBI and two runs scored to lead the Cardinals, who have won the first two portions of this series and 11 of their last 13 games.

"Right now I just feel good at the plate," said Beltran, who is batting .333 with four homers, nine RBI and 16 hits in his last 11 games. "I'm just seeing the baseball and not thinking about anything, just reacting to what I'm getting."

Jon Jay homered and Allen Craig added two hits and a pair of runs driven in.

The Cardinals are 2 1/2 games ahead of Cincinnati for the Central lead and have a 4-1 record so far on this 10-game homestand. The Cards and Mets will close out the set Thursday afternoon.

New York will try to avoid losing six in a row for the second time this season Wednesday and dropped that many from April 25-30.

In Tuesday's lopsided setback at Busch Stadium, Mets starter Dillon Gee continued to struggle and was banged around for six runs -- five earned -- and nine hits over four innings.

Marlon Byrd hit a two-run homer during a four-run sixth inning for the Mets.

"We've gone through a bad streak and its been two weeks long," Collins said. "We can't sit there and hide the fact and try make something positive out of it. We're just not hitting."

The Mets fell 6 1/2 game off the NL East lead and are winless (0-2) so far on a seven-game road trip. They're scheduled to visit the Chicago Cubs at historic Wrigley Field for three games later in the week.

Hoping to pitch the Mets out of their funk Wednesday will be Shaun Marcum. In his first season with the Mets, Marcum is 0-3 in four games (3 starts) to go along with a dreadful 8.59 earned run average. Marcum, a right-hander, was pounded for nine hits and six runs in 4 2/3 innings of a 7-3 loss to Pittsburgh on Friday.

Marcum has made five career starts against St. Louis, going 1-1 with a 4.65 ERA. He spent two seasons with St. Louis' division rival, the Milwaukee Brewers, from 2011-2012.

The Mets took four of seven meetings with the Cardinals last season.