- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 5, 2014

JUPITER, Fla. (AP) - Shelby Miller finally got a chance to pitch against the Boston Red Sox.

The St. Louis Cardinals right-hander gave up a leadoff home run in his spring training debut Wednesday, then retired eight in a row to help beat Boston 8-6. The game was a relaxed rematch of last year’s World Series, won by the Red Sox.

Miller, who was held of the World Series because the Cardinals didn’t want to add to the rookie’s season-long workload - a decision made easier because of Michael Wacha’s rise, gave up a homer to Daniel Nava on his second pitch. That was the lone baserunner allowed by Miller, who struck out five, four looking, and reached 95 mph on the radar gun.

“Physically I felt amazing out there,” he said. “It’s still early and we’ve got to build up, but I felt like the fastball was coming out of my hand really good.”

Boston newcomer Chris Capuano, pitching his first game, went two innings and allowed two runs on a homer by Xavier Scruggs. Xander Bogaerts homered for the Red Sox.

The stakes will be higher when the reigning NL and AL champions meet in St. Louis on Aug. 5-7. Miller conceded the atmosphere for the exhibition game didn’t quite compare to the World Series.

“I was surprised - I didn’t really see too many Boston fans,” he said. “But when I gave up the home run, it was pretty loud. Obviously Boston has really good fans. Not better than ours, though.”

The game marked the start of a two-day visit to Jupiter for the Red Sox. They’ll play the Miami Marlins on Thursday before returning to Florida’s West Coast.

Among those not making the trip: David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli and A.J. Pierzynski.

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Red Sox: Capuano gave up three hits and a walk but pitched well considering it was his first outing, manager John Farrell said.

Farrell wasn’t as happy with other aspects of the Red Sox performance. They committed three errors, could have been charged with another and gave up five walks.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do as a team,” Farrell said. “We’ve got to do a much better job of commanding the strike zone.”

Cardinals: At this time a year ago, Miller was competing for a job in the majors leagues. Now he’s coming off a 15-win rookie season but mindful of the Cardinals‘ pitching depth.

“Am I comfortable knowing I have a better shot obviously of making the team? Yeah,” he said. “But at the same time, nothing is guaranteed here, especially with all the young guys we have here. All of them have great arms. There’s so much ability around here, I feel like I’m still competing for a spot right now.”

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