NLDS Game 4: Cardinals edge Pirates 2-1 to force Game 5

The St Louis Cardinals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-1 in Game 4 of their NL Division Series matchup, tying the series at two games apiece and forcing a deciding Game 5 on Wednesday.

The story of this one was Cardinals rookie Michael Wacha. Wacha was perfect through five, and had a no-hitter going through 7 1/3 in Pittsburgh. But Pedro Alvarez broke up the no-no and the shutout in the eighth with a solo homer. Then, things got interesting, but the Cardinals ended up prevailing.

St Louis got their only runs of the game in the sixth. Charlie Morton walked Carlos Beltran to lead off the inning, and Matt Holliday followed with a homer to center field to make it 2-0 in favor of the Redbirds. That was all the Cardinals would get against the Pirates' pitching staff all game, and once Morton departed with two outs in the sixth, St Louis didn't get so much as a base runner. That lack of offense could have proven problematic if Wacha wasn't on the mound and dominating.

Speaking of Wacha, what exactly did he do? Well, in his 7 1/3 innings of work, the only hit he allowed was Alvarez's solo homer to go along with a pair of walks and nine strikeouts. After Alvarez homered, Wacha walked Russell Martin and was pulled. Josh Harrison pinch ran for Martin and attempted to steal second, but got an awful jump and was gunned out by Yadier Molina.

In the ninth, with a wild Trevor Rosenthal on the mound, the Pirates had a chance to win the game. Rosenthal took Starling Marte to a 3-2 count before getting a ground out, and then walked Neil Walker on four pitches to bring up the series-winning run in the form of Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen took four straight pitches from Rosenthal to get to 3-1, but hit a lazy pop-up into shallow right center field to end the game and force a Game 5.

All in all, there were a total of four hits in this game. All three runs came courtesy of the home run. The two teams had just one at bat between them with runners in scoring position, and that ended with a Matt Carpenter strikeout with men on second and third and two outs in the fifth. Morton wasn't awful for Pittsburgh, allowing two runs on three hits in 5 2/3, walking four and striking out four while getting 11 ground ball outs, but Wacha was positively awesome, rendering his outing moot.

Game 5 will be on Wednesday in St Louis, and will start at either 5:07 PM or 8:07 PM depending on the result of Monday's Braves-Dodgers Game. The game will be televised on TBS, and Pittsburgh's Gerrit Cole will take on Cardinals' ace Adam Wainwright.

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.