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CIN@STL: Miller dominates in first career start

The Giants raised their second World Series banner in three seasons Friday afternoon thanks largely to their ability to draft and develop pitchers.

The Cardinals, who sandwiched their 2011 championship between San Francisco's two titles, have been built similarly. So when it came to light in January that veteran Chris Carpenter was unlikely to pitch this season, there was plenty of hope as St. Louis had three young starters capable of joining the rotation.

Right-hander Shelby Miller beat out Trevor Rosenthal and Joe Kelly -- who are each in the bullpen -- this spring to slot into the Cardinals rotation. And on Saturday the 22-year-old Miller -- the club's No. 2 prospect, according to MLB.com -- makes his season debut and just his second career Major League start.

Miller has six games of Major League experience under his belt, mostly as a reliever, and also faced the Giants twice in last season's National League Championship Series, so he knows what he's up against in the reigning champs. If anything, it just makes the youngster all the more eager for his first start of 2013.

"I'm excited for it. I know they have a great team. It will be an unbelievable atmosphere to pitch in as well," Miller said. "I got a little feel of how it is there in the postseason last year. As a starter, it's going to be different. The postseason was awesome and great, but that was last year. I'm just trying to get wins for the team whenever it's my day. And I'm real excited to get the start."

So, too, is Miller's opponent on the mound, Giants right-hander Ryan Vogelsong. Vogelsong's story of perseverance is well-known, as after years of struggles the now-35-year-old righty earned an All-Star nod in 2011 and followed that breakout season with another fine year in 2012.

His story and performance has made him a fan favorite among Giants fans, for whom Vogelsong is equally thankful.

"I think my appreciation for them and their appreciation for me kind of feeds off each other," Vogelsong said. "There's definitely a connection between me and the crowd in San Francisco."

Cardinals: No 'pen problems
Although he took a hard-luck loss Friday, starter Jake Westbrook's 6 2/3 innings provided a bit of a win for St. Louis. Only one pitcher who tossed multiple innings in Wednesday's 16-inning marathon (Rosenthal) appeared in Friday's game. Westbrook's outing, coupled with Thursday's off-day, should put the Cardinals bullpen in great shape for the series' final two games.

• Third baseman David Freese (lower back strain) began a 20-day rehab assignment at Triple-A Memphis on Friday.

Giants: Throwin' blanks
Vogelsong has quite the streak to follow. Fellow starters Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito have started the season by allowing zero earned runs through their first 26 innings.

• Friday's victory marked San Francisco's 15th straight in a Zito start. The last time the Giants won that many consecutive games behind one pitcher was in 1936, when they won 16 straight starts by Carl Hubbell from July 17-Sept. 30.

Worth noting
• As noted, the Giants (2010, 2012) and Cardinals (2011) have won the last three World Series. The last time two teams combined to win four straight was 1975-78, when the Reds won in '75 and '76 and the Yankees won the following two years.

• Miller faced the Giants twice as a reliever in last season's NLCS, allowing two runs in 1 1/3 innings in Game 2 and throwing two scoreless innings in Game 6.

• Vogelsong has a 6.83 ERA in six career starts against St. Louis, but that mark might as well be forgotten. He tossed seven scoreless innings against the Cardinals in his lone regular-season appearance against them in 2012 and was 2-0 with 1.29 ERA with 13 strikeouts against St. Louis in last season's NLCS.

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