The St. Louis Cardinals missed a chance to gain ground in the NL Central race behind their staff ace, and now they're looking to get back on track despite the inconsistencies of their next pitcher for this game Saturday night when they face the Philadelphia Phillies.
St. Louis (69-58) remained 1 1/2 games behind Milwaukee for the division lead following its 5-4 loss to Philadelphia and the Brewers' 8-3 setback to Pittsburgh as Adam Wainwright was unable to pick up his major league-leading 16th victory. The Cardinals had a four-game winning streak snapped and also lost for the fifth time in seven road games.
Shelby Miller (8-9, 4.25 ERA) has only shown the promise of his 15-win rookie campaign in 2013 in flashes over the course of his frustrating sophomore season. He has just one win in five starts since the All-Star break and was again plagued by control issues in his last outing.
The right-hander walked a career-high six and allowed four runs and four hits in six innings - squandering an early 4-0 lead - before leaving without a decision in the Cardinals' 9-5 loss to San Diego last Saturday. It was the seventh time he has issued at least four walks in a game, though manager Mike Matheny thinks the three scoreless innings Miller threw before exiting could be a foundation to build on Saturday.
"To his credit, that was one of the best we've seen him gather himself and come back up there for the next two because we needed it," Matheny told MLB.com. "At that point, we're still in the game, but obviously there is already a lot of damage done."
Miller, who lost to the Phillies at home on June 19 after yielding four runs and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 4-1 defeat, will be making his first appearance at Citizens Bank Park. Chase Utley is 4 for 6 against him while Ryan Howard is 2 for 3 with a homer.
Philadelphia (57-71) improved to 3-1 on its nine-game homestand, rallying from an early three-run deficit as Ben Revere had three hits and Howard added two RBIs. Revere is 13 for 28 over his last six games, raising his average nine points to .315 to draw within two points of Justin Morneau for the NL lead.
David Buchanan (6-7, 4.25) has had similar ups and downs, though the right-hander could be forgiven some since he is a rookie. He has lost his last two starts, giving up six runs in 12 2-3 innings while the Phillies have provided him with four runs in those defeats.
San Francisco nicked Buchanan for three runs - two earned - in 6 2-3 innings in a 5-2 defeat Sunday. While it did mark the 13th time in as many starts he's pitched at least five innings since being promoted, Buchanan's frustrations with not getting the big out are mounting.
"I tried to keep us in the game. But I'm getting really tired of not finishing innings," he told MLB.com. "II have to figure something to get out of those innings and leave the bullpen alone for the seventh."
He got the best of Miller in June, limiting the Cardinals to one run and four hits in a season-best 7 2-3 innings.