Baseball / Sports

Matt Adams' walk-off home run powers Cardinals past Pirates, 2-0

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals had just three hits off the Pittsburgh Pirates Monday night. But they needed only one.

Matt Adams, facing Pirates lefthander Justin Wilson in a scoreless game in the ninth inning, launched his 10th homer over the right-field wall with one out to score Matt Carpenter, who had walked, to give the Cardinals a 2-0 win over the Pirates.

"We needed that," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.

It was the Cardinals' first game-ending homer since David Freese won Game 6 of the World Series in 2011.

It wasn't vintage Adam Wainwright on the mound for the Cardinals. Their ace allowed at least one runner in each of his seven innings Monday night at Busch Stadium but none of them scored as he reduced his earned run average to 0.48 for his last five starts. In 18 starts this season, the 11-game winner hasn't allowed a run in nine of then.

Wainwright threw 112 pitches but was matched by Pittsburgh's Charlie Morton, who held the Cardinals to one hit over seven innings despite throwing only 49 strikes in that time.

The Pirates sniped at Wainwright all night.

In the first, he was rescued, to a degree, by home-plate umpire Alan Porter. The Pirates got a single by Starling Marte and a two-out walk to Neil Walker before Russell Martin was hit in the left arm by a pitch. Porter, however, ruled that Martin hadn't made the appropriate move to get out of the way of the ball and called the pitch only ball three.

Martin, after fouling off several pitches, then flied to deep left.

The game, which was delayed 47 minutes by starting because of a threat of rain, was halted for a brief interlude before the start of the home first, again with little rain falling.

The Pirates were in the field ready to start when it began raining again. Umpire crew chief Joe West started to wave off the resumption of proceedings but then most of the rain stopped and, after an 11-minute total hiatus, Cardinals leadoff man Matt Carpenter stepped in to face Morton, who began the game 2-10 with a 6.11 earned run average against the Cardinals, not counting a divisional playoff round loss last year.

Adams doubled to left with two out but Allen Craig grounded to third base, something he has done too often this year. That was the last hit the Cardinals would have for a long time.

Wainwright dodged trouble again in the second after Ike Davis drew the righthander's second walk and Pedro Alvarez singled to left center.

Jordy Mercer, who has a home run off Wainwright, grounded this time to third baseman Carpenter, who started a round-the-horn double play pivoted by second baseman Kolten Wong. Wainwright retired Morton on a groundout to end the inning.

All-Star Josh Harrison, the Pirates' utilityman playing right field, dived to his left to deprive Jhonny Peralta of a hit in the Cardinals' second.

But Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday raced to the left-center-field wall, avoiding sliding center fielder Jon Jay, to take a double away from Marte in the third after Harrison had opened with a single. Wainwright then induced his second double play, getting Andrew McCutchen to ground sharply to Wong, who was stationed near second base.

McCutchen had hit Wainwright at a .382 clip before Monday but couldn't handle him in four at-bats.

Wainwright wriggled out of harm's way in the fourth. Walker blooped a single to left center and, after Martin was called out on strikes, Davis sliced a single to left.

But Wainwright fanned Alvarez on a curveball. After Davis went to second on a ball in the dirt -- catcher Yadier Molina threw to third, nearly wild -- Wainwright got Mercer to pop to Wong.

Marte tripled into the right-field corner with two out in the fifth but Wainwright shut down this threat, too, with the help of Carpenter, who charged McCutchen's slow bounder and nipped the 2013 Most Valuable Player by a half stride at first base.

The Pirates had eight runners through five innings but none made it past third base.

Morton was giving the Cardinals little or nothing, striking out five and allowing just Adams' first-inning hit through seven innings. He permitted his first leadoff man to reach base in the sixth when Carpenter walked for the second time. But Holliday, piling up double-play grounders lately, batted into his 14th on a ball fielded by third baseman Alvarez.

Wainwright allowed a runner for the sixth inning out of six when he walked Davis for the second time with two out in the sixth. He stranded his seventh Pirate when he struck out Alvarez for the second time but he hit the 100-pitch mark far earlier than normal.

Mercer began the Pittsburgh seventh with a single to center, giving Morton a chance to sacrifice. But with the defense moving, Morton swung instead and popped up.

The Pirates put Mercer in motion on the hit-and-run and he got to second as Harrison grounded out. Wainwright plunked Marte in the back with a pitch to bring up McCutchen in a potentially grave spot but Wainwright finished his night's work by retiring McCutchen on a fly to right.

Alvarez sprawled to take a hit away from Molina in the Cardinals' seventh and first baseman Davis jumped for Peralta's liner.

The Pirates put three more runners on in the eighth against lefthander Sam Freeman, with Wong booting Mercer's two-out grounder to load the bases. Pittsburgh sent up lefthanded-batting Gregory Polanco to bat for Morton and Freeman fanned him on a breaking ball to send the game still scoreless to the home eighth.

Jay singled off All-Star Tony Watson for the Cardinals' second hit. Wong sacrificed and Cardinals manager Mike Matheny sent up lefthanded-hitting Oscar Taveras against the lefthanded Watson. Taveras lined the first pitch to right but Harrison snagged it and doubled Jay off second.

(c)2014 St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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