Cardinals edge Pirates to send NLDS to deciding game
PITTSBURGH — Michael Wacha heard the chants. Then again, when 40,000 people clad in black scream your name relentlessly for the better part of three hours, it’s kind of hard to miss.
The goal was to rattle the St. Louis rookie, remind him that 22-year-old pitchers aren’t built to withstand the pressure of an elimination game. One problem. Wacha doesn’t really do rattled. He doesn’t do pressure, either. The louder PNC Park grew, the more unhittable Wacha became.
And the Pittsburgh Pirates — not to mention anyone else he might face in the post-season — “kind of” need to get used to it. Wacha took a no-hit bid into the eighth inning and the Cardinals showed off their October poise, edging the Pirates 2-1 Monday to force a winner-take-all Game 5 in the NL division series. St. Louis is 7-1 over the last three years with its season on the line.
One the Pirates are still trying to master. Pedro Alvarez hit his third home run of the series, connecting with one out in the eighth for Pittsburgh’s only hit in Game 4. It wasn’t enough for the Pirates to advance to the NL championship series for the first time in 21 years.
“I guess that’s why we play five,” star centre-fielder Andrew McCutchen said. “We’ll be ready for the fifth one.”
The Pirates weren’t quite ready for the fourth one, not with the way Wacha was dealing. He walked two and struck out nine before giving way to the bullpen in the eighth.
Matt Holliday’s two-run homer off Charlie Morton in the sixth was all the offence required on a day the Cardinals tossed the first one-hitter in the club’s lengthy post-season history.