The Cardinals’ three-game series with the National League Central Division-leading Milwaukee Brewers this week promised to be a contest among the Nos. 3 through 5 starters of each club. Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha of the Cardinals and Yovani Gallardo and Kyle Lohse of the Brewers were sitting this one out.
The takeaway from the first two nights is that the Cardinals’ rotation has much the better depth but, then again, it is better than most.

After Lance Lynn fanned 11 and held the Brewers to three hits over seven innings in a 4-0 win over Matt Garza on Monday, Shelby Miller gained his first win of the season Tuesday night. Miller also held the Brewers to three hits and one run, striking out seven while allowing only two fly-ball outs in six innings of a 6-1 win.

New center fielder Peter Bourjos might as well have stayed in the dugout for Miller’s stint.

“I don’t think I had a ball,” said Bourjos, who didn’t even have a grounder.

“It’s a good thing. Any defense would rather not have any action. That means the pitchers are doing their job, pounding the zone and striking guys out.”

Miller, 4-0 with a 1.95 earned run average in his young career against Milwaukee, outpitched Marco Estrada in a victory that moved the Cardinals, winners of four straight, to one game back of the Brewers, who had won nine straight before the Cardinals arrived at Miller Park.

No. 5 starters Joe Kelly of the Cardinals and Wily Peralta of the Brewers will be matched this afternoon as the Cardinals try to beat the Brewers for the 11th time in their last 13 meetings in Milwaukee over two seasons. The Cardinals have won 16 of their last 21 from the Brewers.

“We’re holding our breath,” manager Mike Matheny said. “This is a good team. We don’t take any out or any batter for granted because this is a team that has shown the rest of baseball. We know what they’ve got.”

The only blemish on Miller was Aramis Ramirez’s fourth-inning home run. The 23-year-old was irked that he has allowed five home runs in 17 1/3 innings.

“I’m frustrated with that,” he said. “If I could go back in time, I’d do anything to take away the big home runs.”

But, said Matheny, Tuesday’s effort looked “more like Shelby.” In particular, Matheny cited Miller’s fastball as being plenty good enough, especially when he didn’t try to throw it so hard.

“I don’t know what it is about his fastball,” said Matheny. “But when it’s right, guys just have a hard time finding the barrel with it.”

Miller’s last victory was Sept. 25 of last year. “At 0-2, I was getting a little nervous,” he said. “And I didn’t have the best spring.”

Per custom, Miller credited catcher Yadier Molina for calling a game that had the Brewers off balance and for fixing Miller’s own imbalance.

“I was falling off a little to the left side of the mound,” said Miller. “That’s what Yadi told me and I got that corrected.”

Veteran righthander Pat Neshek, showing increased velocity himself, worked a perfect seventh, lefthander Kevin Siegrist a hitless eighth (though he plunked Carlos Gomez), and Seth Maness finished up with a flawless ninth, striking out Ryan Braun and Ramirez in succession.