MLB playoffs: Wainwright's dominant effort sends St. Louis to NLCS
NLDS • St. Louis moves on to NLCS thanks to another dominant performance by ace.
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St. Louis • Nobody's better than the St. Louis Cardinals when they can't afford to lose.

Adam Wainwright went all the way on the mound and St. Louis got two-run homers from David Freese and Matt Adams to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-1 Wednesday night, advancing to the NL championship series for the third straight season.

Wainwright scattered eight hits in his second dominant win of the division series, coming through for the Cardinals in a winner-take-all Game 5. St. Louis gets to stay at home to open the NLCS against the well-rested Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night.

"I wanted it bad. It's probably the most nervous I've ever been," Wainwright said. "I don't get a whole lot of nerves when I pitch. Before I pitched today, I was pretty nervous."

By ending Pittsburgh's storybook season, the Cardinals improved to 8-1 when facing postseason elimination the past three years. They also won Game 5 of the NL division series in Washington last year — even though Wainwright got rocked — and at Philadelphia in 2011.

Freese homered in the second inning off rookie Gerrit Cole, and Adams connected in the eighth against reliever Mark Melancon to make it 5-1. Pete Kozma added an RBI infield single, and Wainwright finished it off by striking out Pedro Alvarez with two on.

"I'm just so fired up for this team and this city right now," Wainwright said. "Cardinal fans were rockin' today and I'm just fired up to be here."

Alvarez became the first major league player with an RBI in his first six postseason games on a fluke hit that caromed off first base in the seventh. But the Pirates, who stopped a record streak of 20 consecutive losing seasons this year, were held to one run in each of the final two games of their first playoff appearance since 1992.

"We were able to take a huge step forward this year in restoring the pride and the passion of the Pittsburgh Pirates' organization," manager Clint Hurdle said, "and rebonding our city with a ball team."

Despite their turnaround and a victory over Cincinnati in the NL wild-card game, the Pirates haven't won a postseason series since the 1979 World Series.

Wainwright was helped by three double plays — two when Pirates runners strayed too far on line drives. The right-hander struck out six and walked one in a 107-pitch complete game.

"Every time we turned around, Wainwright got in the way tonight," Hurdle said. "We were able to be — the at-bats were better, the approach got better, but he kept making pitches. The last two games they kept us off the plate." Cardinals 6, Pirates 1

Pittsburgh AB R H BI BB SO Avg.

S.Marte lf 4 0 0 0 0 1 .053

Melancon p 0 0 0 0 0 0 —-

Grilli p 0 0 0 0 0 0 —-

N.Walker 2b 3 0 0 0 1 1 .000

McCutchen cf 4 0 0 0 0 1 .278

Morneau 1b 4 1 2 0 0 0 .300

Byrd rf 4 0 3 0 0 0 .333

P.Alvarez 3b 4 0 1 1 0 2 .353

R.Martin c 3 0 0 0 0 0 .154

Barmes ss 2 0 1 0 0 0 .286

b-Tabata ph-lf 1 0 0 0 0 0 .000

Cole p 1 0 0 0 0 1 .250

a-G.Jones ph 1 0 0 0 0 0 .000

Ju.Wilson p 0 0 0 0 0 0 —-

Mazzaro p 0 0 0 0 0 0 —-

Watson p 0 0 0 0 0 0 —-

c-Mercer ph-ss 1 0 1 0 0 0 .250

Totals 32 1 8 1 1 6

St. Louis AB R H BI BB SO Avg.

M.Carpenter 2b 4 0 0 0 0 0 .053

Beltran rf 4 0 0 0 0 0 .222

Holliday lf 4 2 2 0 0 0 .300

Ma.Adams 1b 4 1 2 2 0 0 .316

Y.Molina c 2 0 1 0 2 1 .294

Jay cf 3 2 1 1 1 0 .188

Freese 3b 3 1 1 2 0 2 .188

Descalso 3b 1 0 1 0 0 0 .111

Kozma ss 4 0 1 1 0 2 .400

Wainwright p 4 0 0 0 0 1 .000

Totals 33 6 9 6 3 6

Pittsburgh 000 000 100 — 1 8 1

St. Louis 020 001 03x — 6 9 0

a-flied out for Cole in the 6th. b-grounded out for Barmes in the 8th. c-singled for Watson in the 8th.

E—P.Alvarez (1).

LOB—Pittsburgh 5, St. Louis 6. HR—Freese (1), off Cole Ma.Adams (1), off Melancon. RBIs—P.Alvarez (6), Ma.Adams 2 (2), Jay (2), Freese 2 (4), Kozma (1).

Runners left in scoring position—Pittsburgh 2 (R.Martin, P.Alvarez) St. Louis 3 (Freese 2, Wainwright). RISP—Pittsburgh 1 for 3 St. Louis 2 for 6.

GIDP—S.Marte.

DP—St. Louis 3 (M.Carpenter, Ma.Adams), (Kozma, M.Carpenter, Ma.Adams), (M.Carpenter, Ma.Adams).

Pittsburgh IP H R ER BB SO ERA

Cole L, 1-1 5 3 2 2 1 5 2.45

Ju.Wilson 2⁄3 2 1 1 1 0 3.38

Mazzaro 1⁄3 0 0 0 0 1 0.00

Watson 1 0 0 0 0 0 0.00

Melancon 2⁄3 3 3 3 1 0 9.82

Grilli 1⁄3 1 0 0 0 0 0.00

St. Louis IP H R ER BB SO ERA

Wainwright W, 2-0

9 8 1 1 1 6 1.13

Inherited runners-scored—Mazzaro 2-0, Grilli 2-1.

Umpires—Home, Jim Joyce First, Paul Nauert Second, Tony Randazzo Third, Wally Bell Right, Sam Holbrook Left, Jerry Layne.

T—2:40. A—47,231 (43,975).