PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Shelby Miller's confidence remains intact.
Unfortunately for the St. Louis Cardinals rookie pitcher, so do his struggles against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Slumping Garrett Jones hit his 100th career homer and drove in four runs and the Pirates beat St. Louis 5-0 on Friday night to move into a tie with the Cardinals for the NL Central lead.
"We have an offense that is electric and we've got good pitching," Miller said. "I know this team is going to turn it on. It might not have looked like it tonight but it was a bad night."
It tends to be whenever Miller (12-9) faces the Pirates. He fell to 0-4 against Pittsburgh after 4 1-3 erratic innings, giving up five runs on eight hits, striking out three and walking three.
"I made some mistakes with some pitches and they put good swings on them," Miller said. "At the end of the day, they were better than us."
While blaming himself for not keeping the Cardinals in the game, Miller received little help from an offense that has managed all of one run in Miller's four starts versus the Pirates. St. Louis never even got a runner to third on a night they were no match for revitalized Francisco Liriano.
Two weeks after pitching a complete game in a 5-1 win over the Cardinals, Liriano (15-6) might have been even better. He allowed just two hits while walking two and striking out two.
"They're waiting for him to make a mistake out of over the plate but he's not making many mistakes then you don't have too many options," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "We hit some balls hard but not enough of them in a row then we gave him the lead and that made it even tougher for us."
A rejuvenated Jones certainly helped. The first baseman came in hitting just .119 in August but broke loose after Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle gave him some time off earlier this week to figure things out.
For a night, the tinkering worked.
Jones hit a two-run double in the first inning to give Pittsburgh the lead, added a moon shot to the seats in right field off Miller in the fourth and followed it up with an RBI single in the fifth.
That was plenty for Liriano. The left-hander is in the midst of a mid-career revival with the Pirates and he had little trouble improving to 4-0 against the Cardinals, bouncing back from a rough start in San Francisco last weekend to retire 18 of the last 19 batters he faced.
"Anybody with his experience and his determination, when you get a little setback you want to come back and get things right," Hurdle said.
Behind Liriano and Jones, Pittsburgh righted itself following a bumpy three-game set against Milwaukee earlier in the week.
An early boost from Jones certainly helped. Jose Tabata led off with a single and Neil Walker doubled to put runners in scoring position two batters into the game. Miller hit Pedro Alvarez to load the bases and Jones ended a month's worth of frustration by slashing a ball down the right-field line.
Jones kept it going in the fourth, golfing Miller's fastball into the stands. Martin followed with a shot over the wall in center on the next pitch to give Pittsburgh a 4-0 lead.
Jones drove in newly acquired outfielder Marlon Byrd in the fifth, making his entire RBI total this month (four) with three swings of the bat.
Matheny replaced Miller one batter later after a particularly baffling night in which Miller twice walked Liriano - who came in hitting just .075 - on four pitches.
"He never had a real good feel for anything today," Matheny said of Miller. "He threw some good secondary pitches because his fastball wasn't working but they also fouled off a lot of tough pitches and he couldn't command much in the zone."
NOTES: The Cardinals bolstered their bullpen on Friday when they acquired reliever John Axford from Milwaukee. "There's a lot of experience there, a lot of upside," Matheny said. "It's hard to forget that two years ago this guy was one of the top relievers in the game." ... Lance Lynn (13-8, 4.02 ERA) starts for the Cardinals on Saturday against A.J. Burnett (6-9, 3.18).
On Thursday, the Cardinals optioned pitchers Michael Wacha and Michael Blazek while recalling left handed reliever Sam Freeman to add a fresh arm to the bullpen for their weekend series in Pittsburgh. Friday the Cardinals acquired right handed reliever Jon Axford from the Milwaukee Brewers for a player to be named later. Axford lost the closer role in Milwaukee this season. He accumulated a 6-7 mark with a 4.45 ERA. Last season Axford had 35 saves for Milwaukee and lead the National League with 46 saves in 2011.
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Jay Bruce homered and had five RBIs and the Cincinnati Reds got a dominant effort from Homer Bailey to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 10-0 on Wednesday night and avoid a three-game sweep.
The Reds came out swinging a few hours after Brandon Phillips' expletive-filled tirade at a Cincinnati Enquirer reporter sparked by scrutiny of his .310 on-base percentage, and after manager Dusty Baker criticized his team for falling short while dropping four of five.
The Cardinals lead the NL Central by a half-game over Pittsburgh after losing for the third time in 12 games, and the Reds are 3 1/2 games back.
Bailey (9-10) capped a six-run first against Adam Wainwright (15-8) with the Reds' sixth hit and his first RBI of the season. He allowed five hits in 7 1-3 innings with seven strikeouts and is 4-0 in his past six starts.
The poor start was unusual for Wainwright, who matched his career worst with nine runs allowed and lasted two innings for his shortest outing of the year.
He had worked at least seven innings his previous eight starts and was coming off a complete game against the Braves.
Phillips singled his first two at-bats and struck out his next two trips while going 2 for 5.
The Reds also got RBIs from Ryan Ludwick and Todd Frazier in the first with another run scoring on a wild pitch. Zack Cozart got the first of his three hits when Wainwright failed to cover first.
Phillips singled and Joey Votto walked again to open the second, setting the table for Bruce's 26th homer on a 1-2 pitch. It's his third five-RBI game, one of them against the Cardinals in 2009.
Rookie Michael Wacha was a bright spot for St. Louis, following Wainwright with four scoreless innings and seven strikeouts.
Shortstop Pete Kozma was among four substitutes in the sixth with the Reds still up 9-0, going to left field in his first appearance as an outfielder since July 28, 2007, when he played right field for Class A Gulf Coast.
Chris Heisey put the Reds in double figures with his 10th homer off Fernando Salas in the ninth.
Notes: Votto entered just 3 for 23 with one RBI and one walk against Wainwright. ...The Reds have won three of the past 11 in the series. ... Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter, out all season with a nerve ailment, accompanied the team on its last trip to serve as a mentor after manager Mike Matheny said he "realized he could bring value." Matheny was hopeful the pitcher would make the next trip, too.
HOUSTON (AP) -- Johnny Football's season will start a little late.
Johnny Manziel was suspended for the first half of Texas A&M's opening game against Rice on Saturday for what the school called an "inadvertent" violation of NCAA rules by signing autographs.
The penalty appears to have brought a quick end to an investigation that could have ruined the seventh-ranked Aggies' upcoming season.
The school issued a statement Wednesday saying it declared the Heisman Trophy winner ineligible and that the NCAA agreed to reinstate Manziel after he sits out the first half against the underdog Owls.
"I am proud of the way both Coach Sumlin and Johnny handled this situation, with integrity and honesty," Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp said in the statement. "We all take the Aggie Code of Honor very seriously and there is no evidence that either the university or Johnny violated that code."
The quarterback was being investigated by the NCAA for allegedly accepting money for signing autographs for memorabilia brokers, a violation of NCAA rules that could have led to a much longer suspension. ESPN first reported the allegations against Manziel earlier this month.
According to the statement, Texas A&M and the NCAA "confirmed there is no evidence Manziel received money in exchange for autographs based on currently available information and statements by Manziel."
Conditions for reinstatement include Manziel discussing his actions with teammates and A&M revising how it educates student-athletes about signing autographs.
"Student-athletes are often asked for autographs from fans, but unfortunately, some individuals' sole motivation in seeking an autograph is for resale," said Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs. "It is important that schools are cognizant and educate student-athletes about situations in which there is a strong likelihood that the autograph seeker plans to resell the items."
He likely will be replaced in the starting lineup by either junior Matt Joeckel or freshman Kenny Hill. Joeckel has thrown only 11 passes in his college career.
The news of Manziel's suspension was the talk of Twitter on Wednesday afternoon, with many questioning the length of the suspension. Former NFL and MLB star Deion Sanders was incredulous at the brevity of Manziel's suspension, after Dez Bryant was suspended for an entire season while at Oklahoma State after lying about having dinner with Sanders.
"Can we investigate the investigators? (at)DezBryant got suspended a season 4 lying about a dinner that wasnt a violation & Manziel gets a half," Sanders tweeted soon after the ruling was made public.
The decision also had a major impact in Las Vegas, where the odds of Manziel's chances of repeating as a Heisman winner and Texas A&M's chances of winning the national championship shifted dramatically on Wednesday. RJ Bell, the founder of sports betting web site Pregame.com, said that Manziel's chances of winning the Heisman jumped from 12/1 to 6/1 on Wednesday, and the team's shot at the title increased from 18/1 to 10/1.
The latest problem isn't the first time off-the-field trouble has put Manziel's career in jeopardy.
Manziel was arrested last summer after a bar fight near campus and charged with disorderly conduct, possession of the fake ID and failure to identify himself to police. It was an incident that put him in danger of being suspended from school and left him having to earn the starting job in fall camp.
Manziel admitted this June that he failed to identify himself to police following the altercation. As part of a plea deal, other charges against the 20-year-old, including disorderly conduct, were dismissed, and it looked like Manziel's trouble was behind him before the latest problems came to light.
Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy last season, setting numerous school and Southeastern Conference records while leading Texas A&M to an 11-2 mark and a victory over No. 1 Alabama in its first season in the SEC.
He followed that with a high-profile offseason of road trips to Las Vegas and the NBA Finals. Manziel got to meet Heat star LeBron James and rapper Drake, and he posted some Tweets that made headlines.
His biggest misstep, however, came during the summer when he departed early from a quarterback camp for high school players run by the Manning family in Louisiana. Manziel said it was a mutual decision after he overslept and missed meetings and activities.
Dat Nguyen, an All-America linebacker at Texas A&M in the 1990s and former assistant coach for the Aggies, lamented Manziel's mistakes, but noted what he's done for the program.
"I'm a little bit disappointed with what's going on down there," Nguyen said recently. "Going into the season I thought this would be the year for A&M to win a national championship and this has been a distraction. He made a bad decision and he's just got to move on ... but overall the guy has put A&M back on the map."
Former Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum, who is now a special adviser to Texas A&M's president, has watched Manziel's career with great interest and is looking forward to seeing how he'll follow up his incredible first season.
"This young man has been in a position that no one has ever been in," Slocum said on Wednesday before the suspension was announced. "He's been a freshman and a 20-year-old winner of the Heisman Trophy, and he's done some great things with that and he's had a few things I'm sure he'd like to have a do-over with. And if I were advising him, I might have said, `That's probably not in your best interests to do that or say that or be there,' but in terms of the upcoming season, I'm as anxious as anybody to see what happens and see what the results are."
Manziel was the main attraction at SEC Media Days, where he was peppered with questions but answered with the same cool and calm he often shows in the face of a pass rush.
"I don't feel like I've done anything that's catastrophic," Manziel said at the time. "Of course, I've made my mistakes. It's time to grow up."
The day before the Aggies reported for preseason practice, ESPN reported Manziel signed thousands of autographs for brokers in Texas, Florida and Connecticut, and cited unidentified sources who said Manziel was paid thousands for dollars for the signatures.
Manziel has been off-limits to the media since news broke of the NCAA investigation, but has been practicing with the Aggies.
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Joe Kelly tossed six strong innings and Matt Holliday drove in a run for a seventh straight game, lifting the St. Louis Cardinals to a 6-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night.
St. Louis has won six of its last seven, including the first two games of this three-game set. The first-place Cardinals have won eight of their last 10 against the third-place Reds and lead them by 4 1/2 games in the NL Central.
The Cards also moved 1 1/2 games ahead of second-place Pittsburgh, which lost to Milwaukee.
Shin-soo Choo homered for Cincinnati, which lost for the fourth time in five games. The Cardinals retired the last 13 Cincinnati batters, dropping the Reds to 4-10 against St. Louis this season.
Kelly (6-3), who allowed one run on nine hits, improved to 6-0 in nine starts since rejoining the starting rotation on July 6. The Cardinals have won the last six games he has started. Kelly began the season in the bullpen.
Holliday, who went 2 for 3, keyed a two-run outburst in the first against Mat Latos (13-5), who gave up four runs on nine hits over six innings. He struck out four and did not walk a batter.
Arizona slugger Paul Goldschmidt had an eight-game RBI streak in early June - a season best in MLB.
The Cardinals needed just 14 pitches to take a 2-0 lead. Matt Carpenter and Carlos Beltran began the opening frame with singles. Holliday followed with a hit to right to bring in Carpenter, who scored his major league-leading 100th run. Allen Craig then hit into a double play, allowing Beltran to score from third.
Choo brought the Reds to 2-1 with a leadoff homer in the fifth, the 100th round-tripper of his career and 17th of the season.
The Cardinals answered with single runs in the sixth and seventh and scored twice in the eighth.
Craig pushed the lead to 3-1 with his team-leading 96th RBI on a run-scoring double in the sixth. Carpenter brought in Jon Jay with a sacrifice fly in the seventh. Jay and Daniel Descalso singled to start the inning.
Notes: Adam Wainwright (15-7, 2.58 ERA) faces Homer Bailey (8-10, 3.71) in the final of the three-game series Wednesday. Bailey is 0-5 with a 6.90 ERA in seven career starts at Busch Stadium. ... St. Louis INF Pete Kozma is mired in a 0-for-23 slump. ... The Cardinals are 34-22 against NL Central opponents this season with 22 divisional games remaining. ... The Reds have spent the past 127 days in second, third or fourth place.
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Allen Craig hit his first career grand slam with two out in the seventh inning, helping the St. Louis Cardinals rally for an 8-6 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Monday night.
Matt Holliday also had a long three-run homer as St. Louis moved into sole possession of first place in the NL Central for the first time since July 29. The Cardinals lead idle Pittsburgh by a half-game and Cincinnati by 3 1/2 games in the top-heavy division.
Rookie Carlos Martinez (1-1) pitched two innings for his first major league win and Edward Mujica worked a perfect ninth for his 35th save.
Zack Cozart had two hits and three RBIs for the Reds, who dropped to 4-9 against St. Louis this season. Jay Bruce hit his 25th homer in the eighth.
Cozart and Todd Frazier each hit a two-run triple off Tyler Lyons in the second, helping Cincinnati to a 4-0 lead. But Holliday belted a three-run drive deep to left in the third.
Holliday's 18th homer came against Mike Leake and traveled an estimated 443 feet for the longest shot by a St. Louis player at Busch Stadium this season.
The Cardinals went ahead to stay in the seventh. Jon Jay drove in a run with a bases-loaded grounder off Manny Parra (1-3). J.J. Hoover then came in and walked Holliday on a full-count pitch and Craig drove the next pitch over the wall in right for his 13th homer.
The crowd of 35,159 roared as Craig rounded the bases. The big first baseman then came out for a curtain call.
Bruce connected against Seth Maness, but that was it for Cincinnati, which lost for the third time in four games.
Lyons settled down after the rough start and was charged with one earned run in five innings. He struck out seven and walked two.
Leake allowed five runs and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings. The right-hander is 1-1 with an unseemly 5.20 ERA in his last six starts.
NOTES: Joe Kelly (5-3, 3.01 ERA) will face Cincinnati's Mat Latos (13-4, 2.93 ERA) in the second game of the three-game series on Tuesday. Latos is 5-1 with a 1.47 ERA in seven starts since the All-Star break. ... The Cardinals are 24-3-2 in home series against Cincinnati since the start of the 2003 season.