All it took was one swing from the bat of… Adam Wainwright?
Yes, that’s right. Wainwright.
It took 12 innings, five pitchers, and every bench player available (and of course, Wainwright), but the St. Louis Cardinals finally knocked off their heated rivals, the Pittsburgh Pirates, in the most important game of the season thus far.
With the victory, the Cardinals are now in sole possession of second place in the National League Central.
Starting for St. Louis was Michael Wacha, who looked to end his career-long six game losing streak. For Pittsburgh, ace Gerrit Cole got the start, but in the second inning, Cole was forced to leave due to an injury. Unfortunately, the Cardinals were unable to capitalize on the advantage of having the Pirates’ ace out of the game,
Even when catcher Francisco Cervelli exited with an injury in the fourth, the Cardinals still could not capitalize.
Heading into the top of the eighth inning, the Cardinals were trailing the Pirates 2-0. Eric Fryer started off the inning with a single, which was then followed by Greg Garcia, who was pinch-hitting for Wacha, walking. Up came Matt Carpenter, who blasted a three-run home run to give the Cardinals a 3-2 lead.
However, things got rough in the bottom of the ninth inning, when Trevor Rosenthal entered the game to try and notch his 12th save of the season. First, Starling Marte led off with a triple after a fielding misplay by Stephen Piscotty led to the ball going all the way to the wall. Three batters later, a Jordy Mercer single tied the game up at 3-3.
It remained a tie game until the top of the 12th inning.
After striking out two consecutive batters, Pirates pitcher Juan Nicasio walked Carpenter and intentionally walked Aledmys Diaz. The plan was to get Wainwright out easily and end the inning. Instead, Wainwright followed with a drive to the gap in left-center to score both runners and make it a 5-3 Cardinals lead. He is now hitting .261 this season, going 6 for 23 with four doubles, one triple and one home run.
Carlos Martinez pinch-ran for Wainwright, and then scored on a double by Matt Adams. Adams then scored on an infield single by Jhonny Peralta, as the veteran continues his successful return. The nail in the coffin came when Brandon Moss launched a two-run home run, his team-leading 14th of the season, to make it 9-3 Cardinals.
Matt Bowman then pitched a perfect bottom of the 12th to give the Cardinals the win, and with the Cubs losing 5-1, inches them closer to the division lead.
It may be a long climb to the top, but the Cardinals seem to be on the way upwards…