ST. LOUIS — Shelby Miller choked on some Gatorade, tripped on the top step of the dugout in the eighth inning and struck out four times Friday night at Busch Stadium.
Other than that, the St. Louis Cardinals rookie right-hander was nearly perfect in a 3-0 victory over the Colorado Rockies.
Miller (5-2) allowed a broken-bat single to Eric Young Jr. to start the game, then retired the next 27 hitters in the Cardinals' 3-0 victory over the Rockies. He walked none, struck out a career-high 13 and lowered his ERA to 1.58.
"It's definitely the best game I've thrown in my life," said Miller, who threw 113 pitches, 84 for strikes. "How it finished was unbelievable. It was a great experience. Yadi (Molina) was calling a great game. (My teammates) were making great plays for me. All in all, it was a good team effort. It's a start I'll remember for the rest of my life."
Miller, 22, became the first Cardinals rookie to strike out at least 11 batters in a game since Rick Ankiel did it four times in 2000. He equaled the Cardinals rookie record for strikeouts, also set by Dick Hughes on May 30, 1967, and Scipio Spinks on June 25, 1972.
Miller's first shutout came in his 86th professional start, of which only eight are at the major-league level. The last Cardinals rookie to throw a shutout was Jaime Garcia on Aug. 22, 2010.
"It was pretty incredible," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "It was one of the better outings you could ask from anybody, just how he held his composure and made real good pitches all night long against a very good offense. Wow."
Miller was at 105 pitches after eight innings, and Matheny said he would have lifted him if one Colorado hitter reached.
Josh Rutledge grounded out to shortstop Pete Kozma on Miller's first pitch of the ninth. Miller needed just seven more pitches to strike out pinch-hitter Jordan Pacheco and Young Jr.
"I was feeling good early, but I think I was feeling better toward the end of the game --the last four innings," Miller said. "I've always been told that I get stronger as the game goes on, and I could feel it. I wasn't sure that Mike was going to send me back out there for the ninth, but I'm sure happy he did."
Miller guzzled some Gatorade before taking the mound in the third. It didn't slide so smoothly, and he briefly became sick on the mound. He was fine after drinking some water.
In the eighth, Miller stumbled coming out of the dugout before recovering his steps and completing another perfect inning.
"I was just excited to get back out there," Miller said. "I kind of caught that last step and tripped."
Miller struck out swinging his first two times to the plate, then looked at third strikes in his final two at-bats.
"My hitting is not very good right now," Miller said. "We're pitchers, but at the same time, that's part of the game."
Motte looks ahead
Closer Jason Motte's right arm was in a cast supported by a sling Friday when he talked for the first time about undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery.
The hourlong procedure was performed in St. Louis by team physician George Paletta and will sideline Motte for about a year.
"It had to be done," said Motte, who had 42 saves in 2012. "(Paletta) went in there and did it and said he got a good (ligament) out of my left arm. He said everything looks great. ... He said everything went just about as well as it could."
Cardinals pitchers Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, Chris Carpenter and Jake Westbrook also have had Tommy John surgery.
"I've talked to Jaime, I've talked to Waino," Motte said. "They've helped me out with the first couple of days, (saying), 'You're going to feel like this. You're going to feel this and that.' I've honestly felt pretty decent from the moment I got out of (surgery). I really haven't had much pain."
Motte has been impressed with Edward Mujica, who is 9-for-9 in saves since taking over after the failed Mitchell Boggs experiment.
"He's been great," Motte said. "He's got great stuff. He's one of those guys that goes out there and he's confident in what he has. He's been able to locate his pitches. At the end of the day, that's what it's all about. He keeps guys off-balanced and he moves it around."
Maness and Martinez
Matheny has been encouraged by the early effectiveness of rookie pitchers Seth Maness (2-0, 0.00 ERA in three games) and Carlos Martinez (0-0, 0.00 ERA in two games).
Both project as future starters, but for now, they're replacing demoted relievers Boggs and Marc Rzepczynski.
"We haven't given Carlos a lot of high-leverage situations," Matheny said. "We want to get his feet wet a little bit and let him kind of show us what he's doing --and give Yadi a good look at him behind the plate. So we're still getting a feel for how he goes about it, but he's doing a terrific job.
"Seth, he earned our confidence in spring (training) and what he's done at the beginning of the season in (Class AAA) Memphis. We've put him in as big of situations as anyone we have and he keeps getting the job done. It's a huge lift for us."
Maness has recorded 10 outs on 18 pitches against eight batters.
"That's pretty efficient," Matheny said.
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2665.