The Blue Jays didn't have a hit until the sixth inning, and they were shut out for the second time this season, ending their win streak at six games with a 5-0 loss to St. Louis in front of 42,981 fans at Rogers Centre.
"He was tremendous," Toronto manager John Gibbons said of Miller. "They have a good pitching staff over there, as good as anybody in baseball from top to bottom. He was on his game. We hit a couple of balls we thought might have a chance, but they flagged them down. ... But the story of the game was Miller."
The Blue Jays entered play on Saturday afternoon with the top-ranked offense in the Major Leagues. The 89 homers and 314 runs scored were the best in baseball, and the club hadn't been shut out since April 17 in Minnesota. There was bound to be at least a few more hiccups along the way, and one of those finally came on Saturday.
Toronto's first hit didn't come until two outs into the sixth inning. Jose Reyes hit a sharp single to right field and later advanced to third when a ground ball hit by Melky Cabrera bounced off the glove of first baseman Allen Craig. That gave Toronto its first legitimate scoring opportunity, but Miller responded by striking out Jose Bautista on four pitches -- all fastballs at 96 mph or higher -- to end the inning.
There were several other close calls throughout the afternoon as the Blue Jays looked to extend their consecutive games with at least one homer to six. Bautista, Juan Francisco and Brett Lawrie all hit deep fly balls to the warning track, but each time a Cardinals defender was able to come away with the out.
Miller was relatively flawless as he went on to record the second shutout of his career. He allowed three hits, issued one walk and struck out five while throwing 66 of his 105 pitches for strikes. It marked the seventh time this season he struck out at least five batters.
"There's no doubt that their offense is great," said Miller, whose other shutout occurred on May 10, 2013, vs. Colorado. "I think the biggest thing was just getting ahead in the counts, mixing it up with some changeups and curveballs and cutters."
Buehrle was almost as good for the Blue Jays as he searched for his Major League-leading 11th win of the season. He pitched well enough to deserve a different fate, but one small mistake on a pitch to rookie Randal Grichuk in the fifth inning was all it took to force the loss. Grichuk sent a first-pitch changeup over the wall in straightaway center field for the first homer of his big league career.
That was the only run charged to Buehrle, who allowed five hits and an uncharacteristic five walks. The 35-year-old lowered his ERA to 2.04 and has now recorded quality starts in all but two of his 13 outings. It was Buehrle's first loss since he allowed seven runs (six earned) against the Red Sox on April 25.
"It was on the outside of the plate, may have been up just a tad," Buehrle said of his pitch to Grichuk. "It was one of those, I knew he hit it pretty good, but I thought when he hit it ... it was more of a pop fly, so that kind of surprised me. It seemed like we hit a few balls today, thought same thing, thought the ball was going to go out of there, and they caught it at the warning track."
Toronto will have another opportunity to pull out the series victory with a win on Sunday afternoon. The Blue Jays are undefeated in their past seven series for the first time since June 2000. The organization has not gone undefeated in eight consecutive series since May-June, 1993.
"We go out there and win a few games, try to win series; that's how we have to go from here on out," Buehrle said of his first-place team. "Not really a scoreboard watcher or look at what other teams are doing, just go out there and try to take care of ourself. Hopefully we're at first place at the end of the year, but we have a long way to go."