First runs, first loss: Miller falls from perch

Yankees closer unscored upon in 17 appearances before allowing walk-off homer

First runs, first loss: Miller falls from perch

WASHINGTON -- Andrew Miller knew that it would be a long shot to keep his sterling 0.00 ERA intact all year, but that did not make the first blip any easier for the Yankees' closer to swallow.

Miller served up Ryan Zimmerman's walk-off, two-run home run in the 10th inning on Tuesday at Nationals Park, which sent the Yankees to an 8-6 loss and marked the first earned runs permitted by the left-hander in 18 appearances.

"You never want to give up any runs, and you certainly don't want to lose a game for the team," Miller said. "I think it's been a good start; now there's a chance to start another streak. It's still not a good feeling. I'm not going to feel good for a little while, but I'll be ready to go next time."

Zimmerman's walk-off shot

Miller remains a perfect 13-for-13 in save opportunities since taking over the Yanks' closer role, though he was charged with his first loss. In 18 1/3 innings, he has compiled an 0.98 ERA while permitting just four hits, nine walks and striking out 31.

"Well, he's not going to be perfect," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He gave up his first run. The two guys at the back end of our bullpen have been really special. It's the first runs they've given up."

Miller got ahead of Zimmerman with a called strike on a fastball before throwing him three straight sliders out of the strike zone. Forced to come back in, Miller left a fastball up and out over the plate that Zimmerman clanged off the right-field foul pole for the 10th walk-off homer of his career.

"I probably didn't throw [the sliders] exactly where I wanted to, maybe a little too far out of the zone," Miller said. "He laid off pitches I wanted him to swing at, that's for sure. He's a good hitter, and he's been doing it for a long time. Unfortunately I've seen the other side of it for a long time. I've got to throw a better pitch right there; a pitch that can't hurt me that bad."

Miller's streak of 17 appearances without permitting a run established a Yankees record for any pitcher to begin his Yankees career. It fell short of Lee Guetterman's 1989 record of 19 straight scoreless appearances to open a season.

Girardi said that he has no concerns about how Miller will rebound from the outing.

"I'm sure he'll be fine," Girardi said. "He's given up runs before and bounced back, and pitched in big situations."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.