It's on to St. Louis for the Pirates and Cardinals following another edge-of-the-seat drama that captivated a record crowd at PNC Park a television audience across the country.
This one, though, had an unhappy ended for the Pirates. With brilliant pitching from rookie Michael Wacha, the Cardinals defeated the Pirates, 2-1, to even their best-of-five NLDS series at two games.
The fifth game will be Wednesday at Busch Stadium. Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright will start for the home team. Manager Clint Hurdle, as of the end of the game, had not named his starter. If it is anyone but Gerrit Cole, Hurdle has taken leave of his senses.
It has been a series for young aces. Cole dominated Game 2 and Wacha did the same yesterday and in the process overshadowed a good start from the Pirates Charlie Morton. Wacha held the Pirates hitless until the eighth when Pedro Alvarez homered. It was the Pirates only hit of the game.
St. Louis got its two runs on a sixth inning homer by Matt Holliday, which followed a walk to Carlos Beltran. Morton pitched 5 2/3 innings and allowed three hits and four walks to go along with the two runs.
In a somewhat astonishing part of his performance, Morton, who had been easy prey for left-handed hitters during his career, held St. Louis lefties hitless in nine at bats. But after pitching carefully to the left-handed hitting Beltran, who has hurt the Pirates consistently in this series, and walking him i the sixth, he gave up the homer to the right-handed hitting Holliday. It was a deep drive to center that left almost no doubt from the crack of the bat.
Wacha, a first-round pick in the 2012 draft, has allowed only two hits in his past 16 innings of pitching. In his last start of the regular season, he did not give up hit until there were two out in the ninth. He was in complete control of the Pirates, not allowing a baserunner until a leadoff walk to Russell Martin in the sixth. After that he retired six straight batters before allowing the home run to Alvarez.
When he walked Martin on five pitches, he was replaced by Carlos Martinez. With pinch-hitter Jose Tabata at bat, pinch-runner Josh Harrison tried to steal second but was thrown out. Harrison started his slide too soon and that might have been the reason he was out. Tabata struck out to end the inning.
The Pirates had hope in the ninth when with two out, closer Trevor Rosenthal walked Neil Walker on four pitches. He then threw three balls to Andrew McCutchen before getting a strike. On the next pitch, McCutchen popped out to shallow right field.
First Published October 7, 2013 2:07 PM