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Wade Miley not looking back at early-season struggles

Wade Miley said he was on the same page with catcher Sandy Leon from the get-go Sunday.
Wade Miley said he was on the same page with catcher Sandy Leon from the get-go Sunday.JESSICA RINALDI/GLOBE STAFF/Globe Staff

Wade Miley was firm in his assertion Sunday that he would not look back. The lefthander had learned all he needed from the successes and failures of his first starts with the Red Sox.

Three starts earlier, it was difficult not to look back on how success had yet to come his way. On May 8, one day after the team fired pitching coach Juan Nieves, Miley and the Red Sox were embarrassed by the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.

Boston's offense generated only two singles in support of Miley. For his part, the pitcher allowed four runs in six innings, which actually dropped his earned run average from 7.15 to 6.91. The costliest Red Sox team ever once again found itself in last place.

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"It's always difficult to go through when you go through a stretch like this," Miley said following the Toronto loss. "It's on us to get us out of it. That's just the way it is."

Three starts later, it appears as though Miley may have taken his own advice to heart. The southpaw dazzled yet again Sunday, helping the Red Sox claim the rubber game of their three-game series with the Angels, 6-1.

Miley picked up his second straight victory, allowing four hits and one earned run in eight innings, striking out two, and allowing just one walk.

In the three starts since the loss in Toronto, Miley is 2-1 with a 1.25 ERA, while pitching into the seventh inning of each contest.

"It comes down to fastball command," manager John Farrell said. "Even when he's got a couple guys on base, he hasn't overthrown, as we saw maybe back in April. He's turned things around personally this month, that's pretty clear. He's back to a quick pace — but a comfortable one for him — and he's commanding his pitches."

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Command is what carried Miley to his fourth win of the season. In only two innings did he toss more than 12 pitches.

"That's the biggest thing — being able to throw the fastball," Miley said. "And what [catcher] Sandy [Leon] did — it felt like every time he put down a finger, it was what I wanted to do. We were really on the same page from the first inning."

Fastballs and a fast tempo served the 28-year-old Miley well against a free-swinging Angels lineup as he retired the first 14 batters, needing only 35 pitches to get through four innings. While Miley limited the Angels on offense, a white-hot Mike Napoli afforded him a two-run cushion with a 450-foot bash to dead center field in the second inning, Napoli's fourth home run of the series.

Miley opened the fifth with much the same success: Kole Calhoun lofted the third pitch of his at-bat to Mookie Betts in center. David Freese followed with a ground out to Xander Bogaerts at shortstop.

The perfect outing came to a close on the ensuing at-bat. Miley's two-seam fastball missed high to Chris Iannetta, who took his free pass. It was only the second time Miley had reached a three-ball count.

Designated hitter C.J. Cron followed and appeared to take a Miley pitch off the hands. Boston challenged the call, the video review determining that Cron instead fouled the pitch off the nub of his bat.

Perhaps for Miley's sake, the Red Sox would have been better off allowing Cron to take his base. Two pitches later, Cron laced a single to left field, breaking up Miley's no-hit bid.

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While the speedy workman in him began measuring up the next batter, the sold-out crowd 37,742 at Fenway was vocal in its appreciation of Miley's stellar start.

After laboring through a 23-pitch fifth and a 17-pitch sixth inning, Miley reached the end of the eighth with a little help from his friends — including stellar defensive plays from second baseman Dustin Pedroia and third baseman Brock Holt.

Miley's resurgence has served as a microcosm of the pitching staff, which has turned the corner. The Red Sox have recorded nine quality starts (at least six innings pitched, no more than three earned runs) in their last 11 games. In the 26 games prior, Boston's staff logged only eight.

But Miley refuses to focus on past struggles. To him, the future holds far more opportunity than the past.

"The beginning of the season — it's over, it's behind me,'' said Miley. "You've just got to look to the future; you can't do nothing about the past. Learn some things and move on."


Andrew MacDougall can be reached at andrew.macdougall@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Andy_MacDougall.