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October 10, 2013

Wainwright, Freese lift St. Louis into NLCS

(Continued)

Jon Jay had an RBI single in the sixth and Matt Adams hit his first homer of the postseason, a two-run shot off Mark Melancon in the Cardinals’ three-run eighth.

Alvarez was again a highlight for Pittsburgh, becoming the first player to get an RBI in his first six postseason games on a fluke hit that caromed off first base in the seventh. The rally began with a pair of infield hits.

The Pirates were held to one run in each of the final two games of their first playoff appearance since 1992. Pittsburgh beat the Reds in the NL Wild-Card game, but hasn’t won a postseason series since winning the World Series in 1979.

“We’re not the team that lost again, we’re the team that won,” MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen said. “We definitely have to take a little pride in that we were that team.

“It feels like it’s going to be the beginning for us.”

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 effort.

As a rookie in 2006, Wainwright got the final out in the NLCS and World Series. He’s 4-0 with a 2.03 ERA and four saves in 15 career postseason games, including six starts.

The 23-year-old Cole threw six dominant innings to beat the Cardinals in Game 2, also in St. Louis. His fastball hit 100 mph in the first inning against Matt Holliday, but he paid for a hanging breaking ball to Freese, then got lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth.

“If it’s a different game, probably could ride him a little bit longer,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We’ve only got 12 outs to play with and we don’t have any runs.”

Freese struggled this season to overcome a back injury in spring training and had nine homers and 60 RBIs. But just like teammate Carlos Beltran, he’s an October star with seven homers, 29 RBIs and a .325 average in 36 career postseason games.

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