Pirates starter Gerrit Cole looked as though he was going to be in control early, setting down the first five batters he faced. But after surrendering a two-out walk to Jon Jay, the Cardinals got on the board courtesy of a two-run homer from David Freese. He breezed through the third inning, needing just eight pitches to put down the Cardinals. He lasted five innings, responsible for both runs on three hits and five strikeouts. He would take the loss in what was just a bad night for Pittsburgh.
St. Louis just had everything working for them throughout the game. Following the home run from Freese, Jay drove in a run in the bottom of the sixth with a single into right field. Matt Adams then stepped up in the eighth and crushed the first pitch he saw deep over the right field wall for another two-run Cardinals homer.
Pittsburgh's best chance of the night came in the top of the seventh. After getting a pair of two-out singles from late-season additions Justin Morneau and Marlon Byrd, Pedro Alvarez caught a break with a bad hop that hit the first base bag and sailed over the head of the first baseman. The odd bounce allowed Morneau to score from second to get the Pirates on the board. But they couldn't capitalize on it any further and the Cardinals were able to get a force out from Russell Martin to stop the threat.
The night however, belonged to St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright. He would go the distance, allowing just the one run on eight hits and striking out six batters. After the game, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle gave his thoughts on Wainwright and his progression.
I've been watching him for years, I've watched the whole progression of his career. I've seen him start and close. He's become an elite pitcher in the game, and for all the right reasons.
So with that, the Cardinals are now headed back to the NLCS for the third straight year as they prepare for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Game 1 of that series will take place on Friday at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Official start time and probable starters for that game will be announced on Thursday.