ST. LOUIS – Shelby Miller retired the last 27 batters Friday night, finishing with a one-hitter. A day later, the St. Louis Cardinals rookie sat in the dugout and watched Adam Wainwright nearly top that feat.
Wainwright pitched no-hit ball into the eighth inning and finished with a two-hitter Saturday against the suddenly punchless Colorado Rockies in a 3-0 victory.
“I thought for sure he was going to throw a no-hitter,” the 22-year-old Miller said. “He was locked in. We both threw well, and his was exciting to watch, especially.”
Wainwright doesn’t mind getting pushed by the team’s electric fifth starter who’s 5-2 with a 1.58 earned run average.
“You follow Roger Clemens a couple times like I have been, it makes you focus a little bit more,” Wainwright said. “Once you see Shelby mow through a lineup like he has all year, you want to go out there and do it, too.
“Those guys will think there’s a new sheriff in town,” Wainwright said.
The Rockies had been hitless in 49 consecutive at-bats before Nolan Arenado lined a clean hit to center field with one out in the eighth.
Eric Young led off Friday night’s game with a broken-bat single off Miller, then Colorado failed to put a runner on until Todd Helton walked with one out in the fifth inning a day later.
“I’m just trying to hit the ball hard,” Arenado said. “I knew he wanted to get ahead with a strike, and he threw one down and away. I got pretty lucky, I guess.”
The 49 at-bats is the longest hitless stretch since Sept. 25-27, 1981, when the Los Angeles Dodgers went 50 at-bats without a knock, according to STATS.
“I thought we were going to witness something pretty special,” manager Mike Matheny said. “You could see him finishing that off.
“What a great couple of days,” Matheny said.
After the hit, Wainwright (5-2) doffed his cap in appreciation during a prolonged standing ovation from a sellout crowd of 43,050, then quickly retired the next two hitters. He gave up a two-out single to Dexter Fowler in the ninth and matched his career best with a two-hitter.
“About the third or fourth inning, I could tell he was throwing everything for a strike and was doing whatever he wanted to do,” right fielder Allen Craig said. “You just never know how it’s going to go from there, but that was a lot of fun to be out there.
“He was close. Maybe next time,” Craig said.
Wainwright struck out seven for his second shutout of the season and sixth of his career. Craig had three hits and a sacrifice fly, and Yadier Molina had two hits and an RBI for the Cardinals, who have won nine of 10 and are a major league-best 23-12.
Wainwright has won five of his last six starts, recapturing his form as the staff ace in his second season coming off reconstructive elbow surgery. He has thrown a pair of two-hitters, the last Aug. 6, 2010, at Florida.
“I wanted to attack the strike zone right away,” Wainwright said. “Keep it simple; that was my focus (Saturday).”
Wainwright and Miller retired 40 consecutive batters with 18 strikeouts before Helton walked. He was stranded when Arenado fouled out and Reid Brignac grounded out.
All things appeared headed toward the no-hitter after Matt Carpenter made a sliding stab of a grounder about 10 feet onto the outfield grass behind second base for the first out in the eighth. Wainright smiled broadly at the play.
Arenado, though, then singled.