(BaseballStL) -- Cardinals manager Mike Matheny wasn’t afraid to send rookie Michael Wacha to the mound to start a do-or-die Game 4 against the Pirates.
And Wacha rewarded his manager’s gutty decision by keeping the Pirates without a hit for 7 1/3 innings and gave his team the chance to play at least one more game with a 2-1 victory Monday.
It wasn’t until a solo home run by Pedro Alvarez, his third of the NLDS, broke Wacha’s no-hit bid in the eighth inning and began to unravel the rookie righthander as he walked Russell Martin for a second time in the next at-bat. Martin’s four-pitch walk in the sixth inning broke up the perfect game.
It was the second time in as many starts that Wacha carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning. In his last start, Wacha lost a no-hitter on an infield single with one out left against the Nationals on September 24.
The home run and walk in consecutive at-bats with one out in the eighth inning marked the end of the game for Wacha, who allowed one other baserunner in the game when Martin walked to leadoff the sixth inning.
Matheny brought in rookie reliever Carlos Martinez for the final two outs in the eighth. Yadier Molina caught Josh Harrison, who entered as a pinch runner for Martin, for the second out before Martinez struck out pinch hitter Jose Tabata on an 81-mph curveball to bring the game to the ninth inning.
Interesting stats: Wacha threw 16 first-pitch strikes to the 25 batters faced. Seven of his nine strikeouts came on swing-and-misses. Marlon Byrd struck out three times.
Scott Bierman covers the Cardinals, Rams and Blues for KMOV.com and its associated mobile apps (BaseballStL, FootballStL and HockeyStL). You can follow him on Twitter @Scott_Bierman for St. Louis sports news and notes.