Cardinals ride offense to 9-1 win, take early series lead -

Cardinals ride offense to 9-1 win, take early series lead

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By John Bailey By John Bailey

(BaseballStL) -- It took one inning for the Cardinals to get a man on base, two to get their first hit, and three to blow the doors off in Game 1 of the NLDS. 

It began with a leadoff walk to Adam Wainwright, his first in 2013. From there, Matt Carpenter singled, bringing Carlos Beltran to the plate. 

After moving ahead 2-1, Beltran deposited the next pitch 443 feet away down the right field line. 

Busch Stadium, having rumbled and cheered a few times already, erupted into a roar as Beltran rounded the bases, celebrating his 15th postseason homer. With it, Beltran tied Babe Ruth for eighth most all time. 

"You know, he fell behind," said Beltran of Pirates starter A.J. Burnett. "He threw me a sinker that- basically he was trying to throw at the front door and it kind of ended up in the middle of the plate and I was able to put a good swing on it."

White towels waved, fists pounded on seats, and feet stomped wildly as Matt Holliday stepped in.

The volume ramped up another notch as Holliday doubled. Burnett, having struggled with command of his curveball all day, was on the edge of collapse. All it would take was a push to finish him off. As it turned out, he did it himself. 

Matt Adams was hit by a pitch; a curveball that dove low and left into his inside leg. Molina was walked to load the bases. Jon Jay walked on 3-2, and another run came home. 

David Freese, having hit safely in every postseason home game of his career, walked out to a thunderous crowd and three occupied bases. 

For a moment, Burnett looked like he may be able to escape. He got Freese behind 1-2, and a well-placed breaking pitch could have brought Daniel Descalso to the plate with a chance of an inning-ending double play. 

Freese drew the count to 2-2 before ripping a shot down the first base line. As he returned to first base, the relay throw bounced and hit him in the chest, allowing Jay to score and Freese to go to second. 

It was 7-0, and Burnett's day had finally, mercifully, come to a close. He threw 37 pitches in the third inning and didn't record a single out. He walked to the dugout carrying a line of six hits, seven earned runs, a homer and four walks in just two innings.

The Cardinals inning ended with the pitching change, but not before more than 30 minutes had passed.

"Guys stayed locked in their zone," said Manager Mike Matheny. "Having a couple big blasts like what Carlos did and the big hit by [Freese], those were big." 

From there, Wainwright cruised. Andrew McCutchen broke the no-hitter in the fourth, and Pedro Alvarez matched Beltran with a towering home run of his own in the fifth, but both incidents came and went without any further damage. 

The Cardinals erased Alvarez's run in their half of the fifth when Jay walked and Freese singled (his seventh postseason multi-hit game in St. Louis). Daniel Descalso hit into what looked like a double play, but an errant throw brought Jay home. 

In the sixth, Adams led off with a walk and scored from first on a Yadier Molina double that was misplayed by McCutchen. 

From there it was a masterful seventh from Wainwright, and two power innings by the arms of Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal to end the night with no questions asked. 

Throughout the night, the crowd was ever-present, something Matheny recognized and spoke about after the game. 

"With the crowd into it- we had a great crowd," he said. "They were watching and they were paying attention and hoping something big would happen in the third. That got pretty exciting for them."

As Rosenthal worked the final inning, more than 40,000 fans were on their feet. With the final out, the cheers could be heard in the tunnels beneath the stadium.

The Cardinals go home tonight with one win in the bank, something the Redbird skipper says is all-important. 

"It's a big deal," he said. "To be able to get out on a good first step and play well today, I think is big for our guys confidence-wise and also gives us an opportunity to just take some momentum. Momentum is big right now when you talk about a five-game series."

The team won't have much time to bask in the glow. Game 2 is set to start just about 17 hours after the conclusion of Thursday's action, at Noon Friday. 


JJ Bailey covers the Cardinals for and the BaseballStL app. Follow him on twitter @TheJJBailey and on @baseballstl_app for updates. 

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