MLB: Beltran’s homer gets Cards off to good start
Joy Jay (19) of the Cardinals celebrates with teammates after scoring in the third inning.
ST. LOUIS — Carlos Beltran, Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals gave Pittsburgh a quick reality jolt.
Beltran’s three-run homer sparked a seven-run third inning yesterday and the Cardinals got seven stingy innings from Wainwright to open their National League division series with a 9-1 rout of the Pirates.
“To be able to get out on a good first step and play well today I think is big for our guys confidence-wise,” St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. “Gives us an opportunity to just take some momentum, and momentum is big right now when you talk about a five-game series.”
The first eight Cardinals reached safely in the third to chase A.J. Burnett, saddling the right-hander with the second-shortest outing of his career and putting Game 1 out of reach early.
“Game 164 was rough,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “One of the things we’ve been good at is we don’t overcook things.”
Lance Lynn (15-10) faces Pittsburgh rookie Gerrit Cole (10-7) in Game 2 today.
After a record 20 straight losing seasons, the Pirates entered the first best-of-five division series with plenty of momentum after defeating Cincinnati in the wild-card game on Tuesday, but Pittsburgh never threatened and finished with only four hits. Pittsburgh also was sloppy in the field, committing three errors.
Wainwright remained unbeaten in the postseason, going to 3-0 with a 2.27 ERA in 14 games, including five starts.
He allowed a run and three hits in seven innings, striking out nine without a walk. The only damage came on a homer by Pedro Alvarez to start the fifth.
Wainwright also started the Cardinals’ big third inning with a leadoff walk.
Beltran’s 443-foot drive to the second deck in right field put St. Louis ahead in the third.
“I almost got caught up in the moment,” said Wainwright, who was on second base. “I threw my hands up in the air as soon as he hit it, I knew it was gone.
“Then I realized I had to run.”
Beltran’s homer got the Cardinals going, and Jon Jay later walked with the bases loaded. David Freese added a two-run single that cleared the bases when right fielder Marlon Byrd’s throw to the plate deflected off Freese’s leg for an error.
“Hopefully, we can turn it around and give me a chance to get that ball again,” Burnett said. “I was not able to repeat a single delivery all day, that’s the bottom line.”