The Pirates are banking on a second shot at Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright going better than the first.
Just six days after Wainwright delivered a seven-inning, three-hit, nine-strikeout gem in Game 1 of the National League Division Series at Busch Stadium, his turn in the rotation is up again on five days' rest for a dramatic Game 5 Wednesday night in St. Louis.
"He's a veteran. He knows how to get guys out. He knows how to set you up," said second baseman Neil Walker. "He works both sides of the plate. He's got a sinker, a cutter, a changeup, a split, a good breaking ball. We're going to have to be better than we were in Game 1 to get to him."
Wainwright threw 105 pitches in the Game 1 win, including 33 curveballs that netted 11 swings and misses.
Only Andrew McCutchen, Justin Morneau and Pedro Alvarez were able to hit against him.
McCutchen and Morneau hit back-to-back singles in the fourth and Alvarez homered in the fifth, but the remainder of the lineup struggled.
"Go up there and swing the bat. That's it," said right fielder Marlon Byrd. "He's going to come out and he's going to do what he always does, pound the zone, throw his breaking ball short and try and get swings and misses, try and get balls in play early."
The stakes are as high as last Tuesday's wild-card game against Cincinnati -- the winner moves on, and the loser heads home.
Pirates players said they will be able to draw on that experience, but this time they will be on the road.
"You can almost treat it like the wild-card game, look at it like that going in and knowing it's do or die, knowing we got to win," McCutchen said. "We won that one. ... Just show up, relax and play like it's the normal game."
Wainwright has a career postseason ERA of 2.27, but several Pirates batters have strong career numbers against him.
McCutchen has a career .409 average against Wainwright with 12 hits. Russell Martin has a .409 average with two extra-base hits, and Clint Barmes has a .333 average, including three doubles, in 21 at-bats.
"Best pitcher in baseball. [But] you know I don't think it matters who we're facing," Barmes said. "It shouldn't matter. ... Nothing really changes with our approach. We're going to keep going up there and battling, work as many pitches as we can and try and knock him out of the game as soon as possible."
As for any advantage from facing Wainwright so recently?
"We've faced all these guys," McCutchen said. "We've faced each other everywhere we've been. I don't want to say advantage, I'd just say we have knowledge of whoever we're playing. We both know each other. It's not about trying to trick or fool somebody."
"It's very challenging, going to St. Louis, with Wainwright on the mound," Byrd said. "[They] have a little momentum. At the same time it's going to be a great game.
"Both teams want this."
Jenn Menendez: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1959 and Twitter @JennMenendez. First Published October 7, 2013 8:00 PM