WASHINGTON -- Fortunately, baseball has evolved to the point where there is not much value placed on individual wins credited to pitchers. But it's still unfortunate that Shelby Miller has not been rewarded for any of the impressive starts he has completed over the past six weeks.
Miller's latest gem went to waste during Wednesday night's 2-1, 11-inning loss to the Nationals. The Braves' right-hander proved masterful until he issued a leadoff walk during the fortune-filled seventh inning that netted the hosts their first run. But a lack of offensive support left Atlanta's ace 0-2 with a 2.70 ERA over his past seven starts.
"That's part of the game," Miller said. "All I'm trying to do is go out there and pitch. Wins are great, but at the end of the day we lost. I'm not going out and trying to win for myself, I'm trying to win for the team and we're trying to get in to first place. We're playing a good team and it's frustrating losing two games when we're trying to chase this thing. But we've just got to keep grinding this thing out."
Miller totaled 31 pitches while proving perfect through Wednesday's first three innings, and then induced a double play after surrendering his first hit of the night -- Anthony Rendon's one-out single in the fourth inning. He proved perfect again through the next two innings and exited the sixth inning having recorded strikes with 51 of his 69 pitches.
But the tide turned when Denard Span drew a four-pitch walk to begin the bottom of the seventh. Rendon followed with a single and then Yunel Escobar narrowly beat out what would have been a double play that would have left Span at third with two outs. Miller's frustrations were extended when Bryce Harper got jammed on a fastball but still muscled it far enough into shallow right field to elude a diving Jace Peterson and score Span.
"Those innings are going to happen," Miller said. "Things just didn't go our way today."
After being thwarted through the eight scoreless innings completed by Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann, the Braves tied the game in the ninth, but suffered their seventh straight loss to the Nationals when Ian Desmond delivered a game-ending sacrifice fly in the 11th inning.
Miller has seemingly earned his first All-Star selection, as he has produced a 1.94 ERA and limited opponents to a .294 batting average during the 15 starts he made since the Braves acquired him from the Cardinals in the November trade that sent Jason Heyward to St. Louis. He has produced a 2.13 ERA in the 10 starts he has made that did not result in him being credited with a win.
Along with providing every indication he has the potential to be the legitimate ace Atlanta can count on over the next few years, Miller has impressed Braves management with the mature and professional approach he has maintained during both successful and frustrating stretches this season.
"This guy is a straight pro," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Before this [unlucky] run, he was on a great run and he was the same guy. I don't worry about his psyche at all."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.