The Cardinals lost a game off their lead over the Giants for the National League's top Wildcard spot on Friday night, and they'll need Shelby Miller to right the ship on Saturday night to maintain their postseason standing.
It's been a challenging season for Miller, as the third and fourth innings have been tough on the young right-hander, who owns 4.94 and 7.43 ERAs in each frame, respectively. His last turn was indicative of those troubles as the Padres tagged him for four two-out runs in a 38-pitch third on Aug. 16.
"It's kind of the game-changer at that point," Miller said of the third, the only one of his six innings in which he allowed any hits. "That's where the momentum changed. They got it right back when we had it all. It should have not happened."
Miller needed only 36 pitches to finish his outing with three scoreless frames, something Cardinals manager Mike Matheny hopes the right-hander's strong finish of a week ago will carry into Saturday's showdown against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
"To his credit, that was one of the best we've seen him gather himself and come back up there for the next two because we needed it," Matheny said. "At that point, we're still in the game, but obviously there is already a lot of damage done."
Miller will oppose David Buchanan, who has developed into a solid member of the Phillies' rotation this season. With postseason play out of sight and an eye on cracking Philly's rotation out of Spring Training next season, Buchanan has impressed by notching five consecutive quality starts and not allowing more than three earned runs in a start since June 8.
Buchanan has recorded a 3.46 in nine starts since then, a run that includes allowing only two earned runs in 6 2/3 innings against the Giants in his most recent start. Despite his solid turn, Buchanan was disappointed he did not get out of the seventh.
"My job is to go as deep as I can," Buchanan said. "I tried to keep us in the game. But I'm getting really tired of not finishing innings. I don't know what it is. I don't know if I'm pressing or what. I have to figure something to get out of those innings and leave the bullpen alone for the seventh. Save them for the eighth and ninth. I tried to keep us in the game. I did the best I could. We didn't come out with a win, but I'll take it again in five days and see what happens."
Cardinals: Red-hot Jay
Jon Jay's 12-game hitting streak ended on Friday night as he finished 0-for-3 against the Phillies. He batted .514 (18-for-35) during the streak. His .313 batting average entering Friday was his highest since he was at .320 on April 24. He ranks among the Major League leaders with a .420 (21-for-50) clip in August.
Phillies: Series-ly bad luck
After taking two of three from Seattle this week, Philadelphia hopes to take this weekend's set from St. Louis to earn back-to-back series victories for the first time since going 5-2 against the Dodgers and the D-backs from April 21-27.
The Phillies have gone 10-20-3 in series since winning consecutive sets in late April, and Friday night's victory provides some optimism that the run of series losses may end.
• St. Louis leads the National League and ranks second in the Majors with 205 two-out RBIs.
• Should first baseman Ryan Howard, second baseman Chase Utley and shortstop Jimmy Rollins all start for the Phillies on Saturday, it will mark the 900th time they have shared the same starting lineup at their respective positions.
Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.