The much-anticipated matchup between best friends Shelby Miller of the St. Louis Cardinals and Joe Kelly of the Boston Red Sox didn't go off without a hitch Wednesday.
Rain delayed the start of the game for 1 hour, 3 minutes. Once it began, Cardinals fans repeatedly made clear their appreciation for Kelly, traded with outfielder/first baseman Allen Craig to Boston last Thursday for pitcher John Lackey.
Miller and Kelly each allowed one run in seven innings and received no decisions in the Red Sox's 2-1 victory that snapped the Cardinals' winning streak at three and kept them one game behind first-place Milwaukee in the NL Central.
Trevor Rosenthal (1-6), working in his fourth consecutive game during a five-day stretch, suffered the loss, allowing Xander Bogaerts' sacrifice fly in the ninth.
Rosenthal permitted a leadoff single to Yoenis Cespedes and a double to Mike Napoli. After pinch-hitter David Ortiz was walked intentionally to load the bases, Bogaerts delivered his sacrifice fly to center.
Rosenthal allowed no more runs, but it didn't matter. The Cardinals squandered a two-on, two-out chance in the ninth against Koji Uehara, who got Jon Jay on a fielder's choice to end the game and nail down his 23rd save.
"I felt good," Rosenthal said despite his frequent number of appearances. "I felt like I was making some good pitches. Cespedes did a good job battling on the off-speed pitch. ... Bogaert's has been struggling, so I tried to get ahead. It happens."
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said he had confidence in Rosenthal to get the job done, and added that his decision was influenced in part by the unavailability of Pat Neshek.
"He did a nice job of keeping the damage to a minimum," Matheny said of Rosenthal. "We've ridden him pretty hard and he's been throwing a lot of pitches for us. We want him in (there) in that situation. They put together a couple of good at-bats and then got situational hitting to get it done as well."
Kelly was showered with applause as he walked to the bullpen to take his warmup tosses and when he returned to the dugout.
After the Red Sox were retired in order by Miller in the opening inning, Kelly received another loud ovation as he strolled to the mound for the first time. He did not acknowledge the fans.
In the third when Kelly was introduced before his first at-bat, fans cheered raucously for a fourth time. Kelly again proceeded in a business-as-usual approach, then grounded out to shortstop. But the Red Sox challenged the call, which was overturned, and Kelly's infield hit garnered him $100 from Miller.
"It meant everything," Kelly said of the warmth directed to him. "The fans here are great. Unbelievable. I just tried to focus as much as I can, but I definitely heard them."
After Bogaerts' double in the fourth, Miller retired 10 straight. He left for pinch-hitter Shane Robinson in the seventh.
Kelly was lifted in the eighth for pinch-hitter Will Middlebrooks. Kelly's line: seven innings, three hits, one run, four walks and two strikeouts.
"It was definitely good to get that one in there," Kelly said. "I had a good time. I enjoyed it. I had fun, especially pitching against the Cardinals. ... It's been a pretty crazy week. I just wanted to focus on pitching and not worry about all the outside factors."
Miller was expecting it to be a strange experience facing Kelly. But once the game began, he said everything felt normal, whether pitching against Kelly or batting against him.
"That's media hyping it up," Miller said of the battle between him and Kelly. "Obviously, you have fun with that stuff. He threw a great game. Hats off to him for pitching well and matching every inning, almost, with mine. They just got us at the end.
"I thought it would be a little more odd than it really was. The biggest thing is to just go out there and pitch."
After the game, Miller and Kelly, along with their wives, had a picture taken of them on the field.
St. Louis nicked Kelly in the first.
Matt Carpenter drilled a double off the wall in right and went to third on Kolten Wong's roller to first. Matt Holliday grounded out to third as Carpenter held, but Matt Adams hammered Kelly's first pitch into right for an RBI single.
Miller sailed along until the fourth, allowing just two hits and a walk while inducing a double play from Brock Holt after Kelly's hit.
But with two outs in the fourth, Daniel Nava singled and scored on Bogaerts' double off Holliday's glove. Holliday retreated to the door leading to the visitor's bullpen and was in position to make the play, but the ball rolled away as Nava scored.
Kelly was involved in another controversial play in the Cardinals' half of the fourth.
With two outs, Oscar Taveras hit a smash off Kelly that rolled toward foul territory on the first-base line. Kelly raced for the ball, and he and Taveras reached the midway mark to first about the same time.
Kelly scooped the ball and attempted a throw to first, but it hit Taveras as he approached the bag. First-base umpire Gary Cederstrom immediately called out Taveras for running into fair territory to disrupt the play.
With Matheny seeking an explanation from Cederstrom, Kelly stood nearby in obvious discomfort as Red Sox manager John Farrell and trainers surrounded him.
Kelly remained in the game and batted in the fifth, striking out in his rematch with Miller. Kelly looked shaky on the mound to open the fifth, as he walked No. 8 hitter Jay.
Miller sacrificed, and Kelly retired Carpener on a grounder to first and struck out Wong to strand Jay.
Kelly walked Holliday to start the sixth, but Adams grounded out, Jhonny Peralta flied out to deep left and A.J. Pierzynski fouled out.
Conditions did not favor hitters. Boegaerts' drive that went for a double, Napoli's long fly to center that Jay caught in the sixth and Peralta's fly to left in the sixth, would have been homers on many other nights at the stadium.