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D-backs’ Shelby Miller pitches six innings of two-run ball in return

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Shelby Miller walks back to the dugout after throwing in the first inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

At first, it looked like nothing had changed.

Shelby Miller’s first inning in his return to the Arizona Diamondbacks went poorly. He allowed two runs and needed 31 pitches to get out of it.

But unlike he had leading up to his demotion to the minor leagues, Miller didn’t implode.

Instead, he only found his groove in the D-backs’ eventual 4-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants, finishing his start with six innings pitched, two earned runs and six hits allowed to go with three strikeouts, one walk and a hit batter.

Arizona trailed 2-1 when he exited after the sixth inning, but Miller’s production after a testy first inning was promising. He was efficient and effective, throwing 67 of his 97 pitches for strikes while never needing more than 17 pitches in a single frame (during the final sixth inning) thereafter.

But to begin, it looked like the same old story.

Miller earned a flyout for the first out of the game before the Giants’ Joe Panik singled and Buster Posey followed with an RBI double, both of which came on cutters. Hunter Pence singled in Posey, and Brandon Belt walked before Miller finally getting out of the frame on his 31st pitch.

The command only grew stronger in Miller’s outing, and more importantly, he didn’t let San Francisco’s success snowball on him with big knocks or otherwise. Miller induced eight ground balls to one flyout and held the Giants to 1-of-9 with runners in scoring position.

His ERA dropped from 7.14 to 6.81 after the performance.

The Diamondbacks would hope this isn’t an anomaly.

After all, what was arguably Miller’s best outing this season came in the game he returned from a rehab assignment before his season started going south once again.

Now it’s on Miller to put together a string of similar starts.

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