|St. Louis (83-60) «||2||3||0||0||4||0||0||0||x||9||12||2|
ST. LOUIS -- Michael Wacha is glad he has graduated to a pennant race.
After finishing his college career at Texas A&M just over a year ago, the rookie pitched seven shutout innings and drove in two runs as the St. Louis Cardinals routed the Pittsburgh Pirates 9-2 on Sunday for a three-game sweep.
The Cardinals outscored Pittsburgh 26-10 overall in taking the NL Central lead.
"It helped me going to A&M and playing in those big-time games and I guess gets me prepared for it," Wacha said. "So I just try not to think too much. I go out there and try to go out there and just trust myself. It ended up working out pretty well."
The Pirates arrived at Busch Stadium this weekend with a one-game division lead and a chance to cement their first winning season since 1992. They left trailing the Cardinals by 1½ games and still stuck on 81 victories.
This was the last time this season Pittsburgh and St. Louis were scheduled to play.
Wacha (3-0) allowed two hits and walked two, both of which were erased on double plays. He struck out two and never had more than one runner on at a time.
Wacha hasn't allowed a run in 19 2/3 consecutive innings.
"A young pitcher coming in and just staying within himself, really establishing the strike zone early," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "It seemed like he made some really good pitches as he got deeper into the game. He's just making pitches all day. It's impressive."
Pittsburgh starter Charlie Morton (7-4) left with discomfort in his left foot in the second inning. He allowed five runs on six hits and two walks in 1 2/3 innings.
Morton left for Pittsburgh before the game was over and won't join the team in Texas where it starts a three-game series Monday.
Manager Clint Hurdle said he didn't know the extent of Morton's injury. Hurdle said Morton was hurt when he was backing up a base.
"We weren't sharp in any particular area of the game all weekend," Hurdle said. "They were much sharper than us across the board. It's very difficult to win a game when you are not functioning."
Morton hadn't surrendered more than two runs since the Cardinals tagged him for five in a 13-0 victory on Aug. 1 in Pittsburgh. He went on to win his next three decisions over five starts, including a no-decision after giving up two runs in seven innings on Aug. 13 at St. Louis.
Wacha got his second career hit with a single up the middle on the first pitch he saw from Vin Mazzaro in a four-run fifth that scored David Freese and Matt Adams. St. Louis used 10 batters in the 28-minute inning -- exactly how long Wacha needed to get through six innings of pitching.
"That was a lot of fun," Wacha said of his hit. "I told myself that I was going to hop on the first heater. I was able to sneak it by the shortstop up the middle. I was pretty fired up about that."
Jay scored on Morton's final offering, a wild pitch that bounced just in front of the left-handed batter's box.
The Cardinals jumped in front with two runs in the first. Carpenter and Jay singled to start the inning and Matt Holliday walked to load the bases. Carlos Beltran hit a sacrifice fly and Yadier Molina had an RBI grounder.
"We all knew what was at stake," Carpenter said. "This is the last time we get to play these guys, so it was a big series. I couldn't be happier with the way it played out. Not just the fact that we won all three, but the fashion that we won all three. Really dominated, I feel like, every aspect of the game."
Jones said Wacha had the Pirates guessing all day.
"He has deception," he said. "That downward angle can be tricky. He was able to hit his spots and he has a good arm."
Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen singled in the seventh to extend his hit streak to seven games. ... Carpenter's single in the first was his 99th hit at home this season, a single-season record for the current Busch Stadium. ... Pittsburgh 3B Pedro Alvarez committed his major league-leading 27th error in the seventh, allowing pinch-hitter Brock Peterson to reach. ... The Cardinals are off Monday, but many will participate in Matheny's charity golf tournament. His Catch 22 Foundation supports charities that work with children with disabilities.
|Pitcher Michael Wacha doesn't only throw a gem (7 IP, 2 hits, 0 ER), he also contributes with 2 RBI in the blowout. (USATSI)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Neil Walker, 2B||3||0||0||0||0||1||1||.258|
|Josh Harrison, 2B||0||1||0||0||1||0||0||.270|
|Garrett Jones, RF||4||1||1||1||0||0||0||.237|
|Andrew McCutchen, CF||2||0||1||0||1||0||0||.322|
|Felix Pie, CF||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.211|
|Justin Morneau, 1B||3||0||0||0||0||0||2||.259|
|Marlon Byrd, LF||2||0||0||0||1||0||1||.288|
|a-Travis Snider, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.222|
|Pedro Alvarez, 3B||4||0||1||0||0||0||2||.231|
|John Buck, C||2||0||0||0||0||0||1||.223|
|Andrew Lambo, LF||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.227|
|Jordy Mercer, SS||3||0||1||0||0||1||1||.270|
|Stolmy Pimentel, P||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.000|
|Tony Sanchez, C||2||0||0||0||0||2||1||.227|
|a-struck out for Farnsworth in the 9th|
|2B - Garrett Jones (25, Freeman), Jordy Mercer (17, Wacha)|
|SF - Gaby Sanchez (7)|
|RBI - Garrett Jones (49), Gaby Sanchez (35)|
|Team LOB - 4|
|E - Pedro Alvarez (27, Throwing)|
|Charlie Morton (L,7-4)||1.2||6||5||5||2||0||0||3.44|
|WP - Charlie Morton (4)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Charlie Morton 46-26, Stolmy Pimentel 46-30, Vin Mazzaro 20-11, Jared Hughes 22-13, Justin Wilson 11-8, Kyle Farnsworth 8-6|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Charlie Morton 3-2, Stolmy Pimentel 2-2, Jared Hughes 2-1, Justin Wilson 3-1, Kyle Farnsworth 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Charlie Morton 13, Stolmy Pimentel 11, Vin Mazzaro 5, Jared Hughes 5, Justin Wilson 4, Kyle Farnsworth 3|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|Matt Carpenter, 2B||5||2||2||1||0||2||3||.316|
|Jon Jay, CF||4||2||2||1||1||0||1||.268|
|Matt Holliday, LF||3||0||1||1||1||0||1||.285|
|a-Kolten Wong, PH-2B||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.159|
|Carlos Beltran, RF||2||1||1||1||1||0||3||.308|
|Shane Robinson, RF||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.274|
|Yadier Molina, C||4||0||0||1||0||2||2||.320|
|Tony Cruz, C||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.212|
|David Freese, 3B||4||1||2||1||0||1||0||.265|
|Matt Adams, 1B||4||1||1||0||0||0||2||.262|
|Pete Kozma, SS||3||2||2||0||1||0||0||.218|
|Michael Wacha, P||2||0||1||2||0||1||1||.133|
|b-Brock Peterson, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.105|
|a-grounded out for Axford in the 8th|
|b-grounded out for Wacha in the 7th|
|2B - Matt Carpenter (48, Morton), Jon Jay (25, Morton), Carlos Beltran (27, Pimentel), Pete Kozma (19, Morton)|
|SF - Carlos Beltran (4)|
|SH - Michael Wacha (1)|
|RBI - Matt Carpenter (69), Jon Jay (63), Matt Holliday (79), Carlos Beltran (75), Yadier Molina (65), David Freese (54), Michael Wacha 2 (3)|
|2-OUT RBI - Matt Holliday (30)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|DP - M. Carpenter-Kozma-Adams, M. Carpenter-Kozma-Adams-Kozma-M. Carpenter-Adams|
|E - Adron Chambers (1, Misplayed grounder), Sam Freeman (1, Misplayed grounder)|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|Michael Wacha (W,3-0)||7||2||0||0||2||2||0||2.72|
|Pitches-Strikes - Michael Wacha 97-57, John Axford 21-15, Sam Freeman 15-8, Fernando Salas 11-7|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Michael Wacha 7-10, Sam Freeman 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Michael Wacha 23, John Axford 4, Sam Freeman 3, Fernando Salas 3|
|Attendance - 40156|
|Game Time - 3:06|
|Temperature - 73|
|Umpires - Home - Manny Gonzalez, First Base - Brian Gorman, Second Base - Tony Randazzo, Third Base - Larry Vanover|