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Holliday homer helps Cardinals even series

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Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday is greeted by teammates after hitting a two-run home run during the sixth inning against the Pirates on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Game 4 of the National League Division Series at PNC Park.

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Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, 10:57 p.m.
 

The St. Louis Cardinals hadn't hit a home run at PNC Park all season until Carlos Beltran belted one Sunday to tie Game 3 of the National League Division Series.

So it made sense that Pirates starter Charlie Morton didn't give Beltran a pitch over the plate in his second and third appearances of Game 4 on Monday afternoon.

Especially with Matt Holliday batting .167 in the series.

After walking Beltran to start the sixth inning, Morton delivered a 90 mph sinker down in the zone, Holliday drove the 2-2 pitch 417 feet over the center field fence.

Holliday's two-run homer broke a scoreless tie and was the difference in the Cardinals' 2-1 victory over the Pirates that evened the NLDS and sent the best-of-five series back to Busch Stadium.

“It was great to see Matt come through right there,” Beltran said. “When they walked me and he hit that ball, it was a great feeling in the dugout.”

Holliday had snapped an 0-for-8 streak over the previous two games with a single in the first inning, and said he would “be surprised” if the Pirates were pitching around Beltran with no outs.

Manager Clint Hurdle promised that the Pirates had no plans to walk Beltran to get to Holliday, who batted .300 with 22 home runs and 94 RBI in the regular season.

“Holliday barreled the one ball,” said Hurdle, who managed Holliday with the Colorado Rockies. “(Morton) wasn't trying to pitch around Beltran. We had Beltran up three of the times with nobody on. Just couldn't get the ball where he wanted to.”

While St. Louis starter Michael Wacha was in the midst of throwing a no-hitter, Morton had given up only two hits to that point. He had gotten out of a jam in the fifth, striking out Matt Carpenter with baserunners on second and third to end the inning.

Morton put himself in another fix in the sixth by walking Beltran on four pitches, none of which were close to being strikes.

“I feel like I'm swinging the bat well,” Beltran said. “Maybe they don't want me to beat them, you know?”

Who could blame the Pirates, given that Beltran is 4 for 12 with two homers and six RBI in the series?

“We were looking for ways to get runners on base,” Holliday said. “I don't take that personally or anything. I'm glad Carlos was on base.”

Pirates slugger Pedro Alvarez broke up Wacha's no-hit bid in the eighth, pounding a 438-foot shot to cut it to 2-1.

Afterward, Beltran reminded everyone that Holliday is a career .311 hitter, whereas Beltran is at .283.

“So actually,” Beltran said, “he's a better hitter than I am.”

Beltran also noted that there is a reason Holliday is hitting in the No. 3 hole in the Cardinals' lineup, a position reserved for players who hit for average and power.

“It was fun to watch him being able to come through like that,” Beltran said. “To be able to come through with that homer, that was huge.”

Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at kgorman@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.

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