Cards, Miller finish regular season strongly

Shelby Miller went six scoreless Wednesday

The St. Louis Cardinals defeated Cincinnati in game 162 behind Shelby Miller's first MLB start and now look ahead to Friday's wild card game in Atlanta.

INSIDE PITCH

 

The Cardinals will go with recent history rather than the more distant past when they send Kyle Lohse to the mound Friday night at Atlanta against the Braves in the first wild-card play-in game.

 

Lohse never has won a postseason game in nine appearances, four of them starts, and is 0-4 with a 5.54 ERA. One of his worst games of this season came at Atlanta on May 30, when he gave up five runs in five innings to the Braves in a 10-7 loss.

 

But Lohse finished the season with a 16-3 record, the best percentage (.842) of any major league starter, and manager Mike Matheny rewarded him with the start.

 

"It feels real good to know they trust you enough to pitch in a one-game playoff. That's something you dream about as a kid," said Lohse, 33, who almost surely will be leaving as a free agent.

 

Never regarded as a No. 1 starter before in his career, Lohse said he wasn't going to try to sway anybody's judgment now.

 

"I'm not going to try to tout myself," he said. "I'm not saying, 'Hey, look at my numbers. I should be looked at as something different.'

 

"It's not up to me to validate myself. People can think what they want. I don't really care."

 

Matheny, however, looks at Lohse as "a Cy Young (award) candidate, a guy who's been as consistent as you could ever ask any starter to be."

 

The Cardinals lost five of six games to the Braves this year and don't have strong left-handed answers to a Braves lineup that features four left-handed-hitting regulars and switch-hitting Chipper Jones.

 

NOTES AND QUOTES

RHP Shelby Miller, the 2009 top draft pick making his first major league start, held the Cincinnati Reds hitless for 5 2/3 innings and finished a six-inning stint allowing just a bloop single by shortstop Wilson Valdez as the Cardinals scratched out a 1-0 win in the regular-season finale. Miller fanned seven, those strikeouts exhausting only 23 pitches. "He had us eating out of his hand," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. While Miller gave up one hit, he got his first two major league hits, a double and a single, after going hitless in 27 at-bats at Class AAA Memphis and one with the Cardinals this year. "I really couldn't have asked for more," said Miller. "I'm thankful for the opportunity that the Cardinals gave me. I know it wasn't the biggest game of the year, but it meant a lot to me."

RHP Jason Motte recorded his 42nd save, marking the first time in franchise history that one pitcher had achieved all the team's saves. He also tied Atlanta RHP Craig Kimbrel for the National League lead. "Pretty cool," Motte said of both accomplishments.

1B Lance Berkman, batting for the first time in nearly a month after undergoing his second right knee surgery, tapped out as a pinch hitter. He was accorded a standing ovation in what probably was his final at-bat with the Cardinals. Berkman, who still hopes to be ready later in the postseason, said, "It was certainly a nice sendoff but something I've come to expect from this crowd here, to see the class these people have. The people are some of the best in the world, and it's my privilege to have gotten to play here."

CF Jon Jay did not play Wednesday, which meant he ended the season without a fielding error. He is hoping for his first Gold Glove.

C Yadier Molina finished the season with a .315 average, marking the first time a Cardinals catcher had led the team in hitting in two consecutive seasons. Molina batted .305 last year.

LHP Marc Rzepczynski, appearing in his 70th game, fanned Cincinnati 1B Joey Votto in the ninth inning. That might have improved Rzepczynski's chances of staying on the roster for the wild-card game Friday against Atlanta's lefty-dominated lineup.

Rookie SS Pete Kozma was the only Cardinals regular to start Wednesday's season finale.

By the Numbers:

88-74 - Cardinals' final record, two wins fewer than when they won the World Series title last year.

Quote to Note:

"We're not going to use roster spots on starting pitching that we don't think we'll use."

- Manager Mike Matheny, on the team's plans to not add more than one or two starting pitchers to the roster for the wild-card play-in game.

MEDICAL WATCH

RHP Jake Westbrook (strained right oblique) was injured Sept. 8, and he probably is out for the rest of the regular season. He encountered discomfort in a bullpen session Sept. 22 in Chicago and had to stop throwing. "If I do get the opportunity to pitch (in postseason)," he said, "I think it would have to be out of the bullpen."

1B Lance Berkman (sore right knee) underwent additional surgery Sept. 14. He made a pinch-hit appearance on the final day of the season Oct. 3.

SS Rafael Furcal (torn ligament in right elbow) was placed on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 31 and is out for the season. He might need Tommy John surgery, but he got a platelet-rich plasma injection on Sept. 4 in the hopes of avoiding having to go under the knife, but as of Sept. 19 he still hadn't been able to do any baseball activities. Furcal plans to meet with doctors the week of Oct. 1 to see whether he can begin a throwing program.

RHP Kyle McClellan (torn labrum in right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list May 18 due to a strained right elbow, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 30. He threw on flat ground for the first time July 3, but he subsequently felt shoulder pain. He had season-ending shoulder surgery July 10. McClellan will begin a throwing program in early November.

Link to boxscore: St. Louis 1, Cincinnati 0

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