(BaseballStL) -- With the way Francisco Liriano pitched, Shelby Miller couldn’t afford to make any mistakes to the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 5-1 loss on Wednesday.
But he did, and Pedro Alvarez and Garrett Jones made him pay in the second inning.
After throwing 11 pitches in the first inning, 10 of which for strikes, Miller fell 1-0 to Alvarez before making his first mistake of the game -- a 95-mph fastball out over the plate. Alvarez deposited it 440 feet to center field for his team-leading 29th home run of the season and a 1-0 lead. Two batters later, Garrett Jones hit his 11th home run on a 1-0 count to right field for a two-run lead.
“The first pitch to Alvarez I guess was barely off, and then I try to go inside and I left it away,” Miller said. “He hit it well. Same thing with Jones -- missed two spots right there and they capitalized on it. That’s what good hitters do.”
As Liriano kept the Cardinals offense off the board, the Pirates added three more runs in the fourth inning with the aid of a fielding error by David Freese, who booted a would-be double play ball with no outs and a runner on first base. Tony Sanchez singled a run to score before Starling Marte’s two-run double capped the inning.
“The three run inning, what are you going to do? They were putting the ball right where the players weren’t,” Miller said. “You have Kozma and Carp and all of the guys diving everywhere and they’re barely missing it. It’s just a tough ballgame for us. They were just putting them in the right spots tonight.”
With his pitch count quickly rising, Miller threw a total of 66 pitches to get through the middle three innings before exiting after the sixth.
“Health-wise he felt fine,” manager Mike Matheny said. “He got a couple pitches more in the middle of the plate than he wanted to early. Stuff-wise, it looked normal.”
Miller said he had no ill effects from his last start which he exited when he was struck on his throwing elbow by a ball. It ended his last start after throwing only two pitches in the game.
“I feel like I haven’t pitched in a while, but that had nothing to do with how it went,” Miller said. “I felt like I made some good pitches at times and threw some good changeups. I think Cruz did a good job mixing it up. I just made some mistakes and they did a good job capitalizing on it.”
Miller’s assessment of his start: “As good as it looks -- give up five runs and get out-pitched. It’s simple, I didn’t do very good.”
Only three of the five runs scored went as earned due to Freese’s error in the fourth. It raised his ERA from 2.89 to 2.97.