The St Louis Cardinals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-1 in Game 5 of their NLDS matchup to win the series 3-2 and advance to the NLCS to take on the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The inspirational run of the Pirates came to a close on Wednesday night in St Louis. Adam Wainwright was magnificent for the Cardinals in their 6-1 victory, allowing one run on eight hits in a complete game victory, striking out six and walking one. It was a shutdown performance reminiscent of Justin Verlander's start in Game 5 for the Tigers last year against the Athletics that ended Oakland's season.
Wainwright got all of the help he needed from his offense in the second inning, when David Freese hit a two-run homer off of Pittsburgh rookie Gerrit Cole to give St Louis a 2-0 lead. Freese's homer, the seventh of his Postseason career, simply kept carrying and carrying, over the head of Starling Marte and into the Pirates bullpen just beyond the left field wall.
For his part, Freese's homer was the only mistake that Cole made. Building on his first Postseason start last Friday in St Louis, Cole allowed two runs on three hits in five innings of work, striking out five and walking one before being pulled for pinch hitter Garrett Jones in the sixth. With Clint Barmes on first after a single and nobody out, Jones flew out to right center for the first out of the inning before Starling Marte grounded into an inning-ending double play to snuff out Pittsburgh's rally.
But really, it didn't matter. Jon Jay singled in Matt Holliday in the bottom of the sixth off of new Pirates pitcher Justin Wilson to make it 3-0, and that lead looked insurmountable. Pittsburgh got a run back in the seventh after a Pedro Alvarez ground ball took an odd bounce off of the first base bag over the head of Matt Adams, scoring Justin Morneau to make it a 3-1 game. Russell Martin followed by grounding into a fielder's choice to end the inning. In the eighth, pinch hitter Jordy Mercer singled with one out to hopefully spur another rally, but Marte lined into a 4-3 double play that saw Mercer get doubled off of first by mere inches.
A two-run Matt Adams homer off of Mark Melancon and a run-scoring infield single by Pete Kozma in the bottom of the eighth made it a 6-1 Cardinals lead, and that was more than enough for Wainwright. In the ninth, he got Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen with ease before allowing back to back singles to Morneau and Marlon Byrd. But Wainwright ended on a high note, striking out Alvarez swinging to push the Cardinals to the NLCS.
Game 1 of the NLCS will be on Friday night in St Louis. Zack Greinke will be taking the hill for the Dodgers, and while the Cardinals' starter is currently unknown, I'd expect it to be Lance Lynn, with Michael Wacha starting Game 2 and Wainwright taking the hill in Game 3 in Los Angeles. The start time hasn't been announced, but it'll likely be around 8 PM on TBS.