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Cardinals top Pirates in Game 5, advance to NLCS: Quick hits

By Dayn Perry | Baseball Writer

Adam Wainwright pitched like a true ace in Game 5. (USATSI)
Adam Wainwright pitched like a true ace in Game 5. (USATSI)

Hero: Adam Wainwright. He was dominant in the most important game to date for the 2013 Cardinals. His curveball baffled hitters from both sides of the plate, and he spotted his fastball exceptionally well most of the night. Most of all, he limited the Pirates to a single run and went the distance. He pitched like an ace, to say the least. Across those nine innings, he struck out six, walked one, recorded nine ground-outs and spotted 74 of his 107 pitches for strikes.

Goat: You know what? No one. Yes, the Pirates lost Game 5 and fell short of their ultimate goals, but this team, this defier of history and expectations, shall have no goats on this night. The crafted their first winning season in 21 years, they made the postseason despite playing in division with two other playoff teams, and along the way they revived what was long a great baseball town. Every series has a goat, but not a postseason series involving the 2013 Pirates. I decree it to be so.

But if pressed I'll say the top of the Pirates' order -- Starling Marte, Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen -- who in Game 5 combined to go 0 for 11 with a walk.

Turning point: With two outs in the second, David Freese lined a Gerrit Cole slider over the left field wall for a two-run homer. Thus, Cards ace Adam Wainwright was staked to an early 2-0 lead in front of an invigorated home crowd. It was early, but, per FanGraphs, Freese's blast gave the Cardinals an almost 75 percent chance of winning Game 5.

It was over when: When Matt Adams turned on a Mark Melancon cutter and yanked it deep to right for a home run, it put the Cardinals up 5-1 in the eighth inning. A four run deficit with three outs to play with was simply too much for the Pirates' offense to overcome, especially against Wainwright on this night.

Next: The Pirates begin their offseason, and the Cardinals advance to face the Dodgers in the NLCS. Game 1 is scheduled for Friday night in St. Louis.

 
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