News

Cardinals top Pirates, head to NL Championship

Cardinals top Pirates, head to NL Championship

ON TO THE NLCS: St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright (50) celebrates with teammates after game five. Photo: Reuters

(Reuters) – The St. Louis Cardinals rode the brilliant pitching of Adam Wainwright to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-1 and clinch a place in the National League Championship Series on Wednesday.

The Game Five NL Division Series victory, fueled by a pair of big home runs, thrilled the handkerchief-waving home crowd at Busch Stadium and lifted the Cardinals into the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, which starts in St. Louis on Friday.

“I wanted it bad, I wanted it bad,” said Wainwright, who finished the regular season tied for the NL lead with 19 wins.

“It was probably the most nervous I’ve ever been.”

David Freese, the MVP of the Cardinals’ 2011 World Series triumph, crushed a hanging slider over the fence in left for a two-run homer off Pittsburgh’s rookie starter Gerrit Cole in the second inning to open the scoring, and an RBI-single by John Jay in the sixth made it 3-0.

Wainwright sailed along through six innings, giving up just two hits and one walk, but Pittsburgh broke through in unconventional fashion in the seventh, stringing together three infield hits in a row to cut the Cardinals lead to 3-1.

Wainwright went the full nine innings, giving up eight hits and just the one run.

St. Louis removed any suspense in the eighth when first baseman Matt Adams followed a Matt Holliday single with a towering blast deep into the right-field seats off reliever Mark Melancon and the sea of red-clad fans began their celebration as the Cards tacked on another run for good measure.

Wainwright struck out slugger Pedro Alvarez on one of his trademark curves with two men on base in the ninth to seal the Cards’ 3-2 series win, igniting a party on the diamond under a canopy of fireworks.

The St. Louis starter was helped by some deft fielding as the Cards turned three double plays, including two off line drives that were caught and had runners doubled off base.

“Our guys made great plays after great plays behind me and all I had to do was execute pitches,” said the right-hander.

It was a disappointing end for the wild card Pirates, who were in the playoffs for the first time in 21 years.

The do-or-die series final marked the 24th meeting this season between the NL Central rivals and the clubs split them 12-12.

“Whenever we turned around, Wainwright got in the way,” said Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle. “He kept making pitches.”

Recent Headlines

in Music

PHOTOS: Get a first look at Beyoncé’s Rock Hall exhibit

Fresh
AP380685452667_1

Beyoncé's fashion has already taken up a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, nearly 20 years before she is eligible for admission.

in Entertainment

‘The Best Man’ set for ‘threequel’

bestman

The new film appears to pick up from news Howard's character drops at the end of the "The Best Man Holiday," which was released last November.

in Lifestyle

Target hopes to make shopping a ‘snap’

target

The In a Snap app will let you scan items in magazines and add them to your shopping cart.

in Music

Michael Jackson’s hometown to name school for him

michaeljackson

A school in Michael Jackson's Indiana hometown will be named for the late pop star.

in Music

Robin Thicke and Paula Patton put house up for sale

robinthicke

The estranged couple, who in February announced plans to separate, have put their L.A. mansion on the market.

Weather

condition Condition: Partly Cloudy
Temperature: 84°
High: 94° - Low: 67°