By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
PITTSBURGH When the Red Sox acquired Andrew Miller from Florida last offseason, this is what they were hoping they'd get . . . .eventually.
Miller pitched with a lot of poise, manager Terry Francona said of the left-hander's six-inning performance Sunday, which led the way to a 4-2 victory over the Pirates. We didnt make some plays behind him. We didnt finish some plays, but he had some poise and good stuff and got us far enough, our bullpen came in and did tremendous.
I thought it was really encouraging. I was really pleased.
Although he had baserunners in each of the first three innings, Miller, now 1-0 with a 3.09 ERA since his recall from Pawtucket, kept the Pirates off the scoreboard until the fourth.
He opened the fourth by hitting Neil Walker with a pitch. Matt Diaz then reached on an error by shortstop Marco Scutaro. After a flyout by Lyle Overbay, Walker scored on Ronny Cedenos sacrifice fly.
Miller led off the fifth by walking pitcher James McDonald, then giving up three consecutive hits, with McDonald scoring. But Garrett Jones was thrown out when he overran third. Walker struck out, looking at a slider, and Diaz flied out.
That was all the scoring Miller allowed.
It felt pretty good, Miller said. Kind of battled through a lot of innings. Managed to get by and they made some nice plays behind me. We'll take a win anytime we get it.
The fifth . . . fortunately Jones overran the bag, so that was a nice out to pick up. I think I was able to get soft contact when we wanted it and the guys made some great plays.
Miller is trying not to look too far ahead. A former No. 1 draft pick (sixth overall) by the Tigers in 2006, he has spent nearly as much time in the minor leagues as he has in the big leagues after making his major-league debut less than three weeks after signing.
"I'm taking it one start at a time and preparing for each one the same, he said. Kind of go out there and throw strikes and give us a chance to win games.
Miller worked with PawSox pitching coach Rich Sauveur, adjusting his pregame routine, as he prepared for his big-league starts.
"When I came up, I was confident the way I was throwing the ball in Triple-A and felt confident it would carry over here, he said. No reason to change anything, just fine
tune things and work between outings, but ultimately things are going in the right direction. Changed my pregame routine up a little bit and its helped me get the game started and helped me be aggressive. Feel settled in from the start.
At 6-feet-7 and lanky, Millers delivery has a lot of moving parts, which pitching coaches have tried to tinker with over the years. That has not been the case with the Sox, he has said, and that's allowed him to focus on his pitching and his pregame routine rather than his mechanics.
"I wish it was that simple, but so far the adjustments have worked and just try to keep it going, he said. It's been a good place for me and the work I've done has panned out so far. For the most part, that bullpen routine is the biggest change. Ultimately though, I just have to throw the ball over plate and make good pitches."
In his second start, he stopped a four-game losing streak, the Sox longest since a four-game slide May 29June 1 and their second longest of the season after starting out 0-6.
"Im just going out there to win every game, Miller said. "I'm going to do the same thing regardless of what happened the previous two, four, 10 games. Try to pitch as deep into the game and give us a chance to win."
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen