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Miley gives Red Sox quality effort in defeat

BOSTON -- In the wake of an April that was nothing but showers for Red Sox pitcher Wade Miley, his first start of May showed signs that this month could be a little sunnier for him.

Miley pitched much like his old self in Saturday's 4-2 Red Sox loss at Fenway Park, spinning seven innings of three-run baseball against the Yankees for his first quality start in a Boston uniform. The game also marked the third quality start in as many games for the Red Sox.

Working with catcher Blake Swihart, who was making his Major League debut, Miley flashed a composure that had previously eluded him, pitching around traffic on the basepaths and settling in to retire the last seven batters he faced.

"We had a pretty aggressive game plan today," said Miley, who walked none after issuing 11 free passes in his previous 15 2/3 innings. "Just threw a lot of fastballs and got some outs."

"He made it easy on me. We had a long conversation before the game," Swihart said. "He helped me out a lot, just what to prepare for and how to get ready."

In addition to regaining command, Miley saw an increase in the sort of ground-ball outs that made him effective in seasons past. He entered the day with a 43.4 percent ground-ball rate on the year -- well below last year's 51.1 percent mark -- but he induced grounders on 56.5 percent of balls put in play on Saturday.

"It was a lot better," Miley said. "Still got in some three-ball counts. Instead of trying to make too good of a pitch, 3-1, 3-0, I just needed to execute a pitch and get a ground-ball out rather than walk a guy."

The outing could have potentially been better were it not for Brett Gardner's timely two-out single in the fifth inning. The hit scored men from second and third base, put the Yankees up, 3-1, and ended up saddling Miley with his third loss of the season.

But the 28-year-old said he hopes to learn from that sequence, adding that his latest performance on the mound was one he could certainly build upon. Considering the circumstances, he'll take it.

"There were a couple pitches that I left up to Gardner, really," Miley said. "Overall, I was glad to get deeper into the ballgame and give us a chance."

Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for
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