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Wacha, Cardinals slow down Pirates, look toward NLDS Game 5

| Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, 5:48 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha delivers during the fifth inning against the Pirates on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Game 4 of the National League Division Series at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates fans cheer after Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams struck out swinging during the fourth inning Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Game 4 of the National League Division Series at PNC Park.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha delivers during the fourth inning against the Pirates on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Game 4 of the National League Division Series at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen can't reach a home run ball hit by the Cardinals' Matt Holliday during the sixth inning Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Game 4 of the National League Division Series at PNC Park.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen walks past a jubilant Cardinals battery of Yadier Molina and Trevor Rosenthal at the close of the game Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Game 4 of the National League Division Series at PNC Park. The Cardinals won 2-1 to force a Game 5.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates fans hold up signs Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, during Game 4 of the National League Division Series against the Cardinals at PNC Park.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton reacts after giving up a two-run home run to the Cardinals' Matt Holliday during the sixth inning Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Game 4 of the National League Division Series at PNC Park.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pirates fans applaud Charlie Morton after he leaves the game during the sixth inning against the Cardinals on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Game 4 of the National League Division Series at PNC Park.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday celebrates with Carlos Beltran following Holliday's 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.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
The Pirates' Pedro Alvarez rounds the bases after his home run in the eighth inning Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Game 4 of the National League Division Series at PNC Park. The hit broke up a no-hitter, but the Pirates still lost 2-1.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle (left) and pitching coach Ray Searage high-five Pedro Alvarez after his eighth-inning home run to break up a no-hitter against the Cardinals on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Game 4 of the National League Division Series at PNC Park.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
The Pirates' Pedro Alvarez hits an eighth-inning home run against the Cardinals on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Game 4 of the National League Division Series at PNC Park. The homer broke up a no-hitter, but the Pirates lost 2-1.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha walks off the field in the eighth inning Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Game 4 of the National League Division Series at PNC Park.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter fields a ball during the third inning against the Pirates on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Game 4 of the National League Division Series at PNC Park.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pirates fans stand and cheer as the Cardinals wait for the start of Game 4 on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, of the National League Division Series at PNC Park.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pirates shortstop Clint Barmes fields a ball during the first inning against the Cardinals on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Game 4 of the National League Division Series at PNC Park.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pirates fans wave Jolly Roger flags on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, prior to Game 4 of the National League Division Series against the Cardinals at PNC Park.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pirates second baseman Neil Walker throws a ball to first base during the second inning against the Cardinals on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Game 4 of the National League Division Series at PNC Park.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Former Pirates outfielder Andy Van Slyke waves a towel to pump up the crowd before throwing the first pitch against the Cardinals Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Game 4 of the National League Division Series at PNC Park.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Pirates first baseman Justin Morneau steps on first base to get the Cardinals' Matt Adams on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Game 4 of the National League Division Series at PNC Park.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez throws out the Cardinals' David Freese in the ninth inning Monday, Oct. 7, 2013 in Game 4 of the National League Division Series at PNC Park.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Cardinals infielder Matt Carpenter tags out Pirates pinch-runner Josh Harrison on a stolen-base attempt during the eighth inning Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Game 4 of the National League Division Series at PNC Park. The Pirates lost 2-1.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates second baseman Neil Walker strikes out swinging during the first inning against the Cardinals Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Game 4 of the National League Division Series at PNC Park.

Pitcher Charlie Morton was good enough Monday to give the Pirates hope in Game 4 of the National League Division Series.

However, Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha gave them practically no chance.

In his postseason debut, Wacha held the Pirates hitless until the eighth inning. The Cardinals got just enough offense — Matt Holliday's two-run homer off Morton — to pull out a 2-1 victory and tie the best-of-five series at two games apiece.

Wacha's no-hit bid was the longest by a rookie in postseason history. The Pirates finished with one hit, Pedro Alvarez's solo homer.

“I think the cowboys would say Charlie drew a tough bull today,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “It shows you there's no safety net in the postseason.”

Moments after Andrew McCutchen popped out to end it, bottles of champagne were whisked out of the Pirates' clubhouse at PNC Park. This NLDS is down to sudden death.

Game 5 will be played at 8:07 p.m. Wednesday at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

“We like our chances,” Cardinals right fielder Carlos Beltran said. “We're going back home. We're going to have our best pitcher, our ace, on the mound.”

Right-hander Adam Wainwright, who suffocated the Pirates in Game 1, will start Wednesday for the Cardinals. Hurdle has chosen to start rookie Gerrit Cole instead of veteran A.J. Burnett, who gave up seven runs in Game 1.

“We've won out there (in St. Louis) before,” McCutchen said. “We would've liked to have gotten it done in front of our home crowd, but things don't always go the way you want.”

Wins in Games 2 and 3, and a raucous, record-setting crowd of 40,493, gave the Pirates momentum going into Game 4. Wacha heard the fans chanting his name, trying to snap his concentration. How could he not?

“I kind of like it,” Wacha said. “It gives me adrenaline, and I use it in my favor.”

Wacha coolly neutralized the noise by working fast and throwing strikes.

“This place was loud — my ears are still ringing,” Matheny said. “The kid stayed the course. He trusted himself. He trusted his catcher and the game plan. Then it comes down to execution.”

Wacha struck out five of the first seven batters he faced — including McCutchen and Marlon Byrd, who went down looking at fastballs. No Cardinals outfielder had to make a play until there were two outs in the fourth inning, when McCutchen flew out to Beltran.

The Pirates couldn't knock Wacha out of his rhythm. He used 96 pitches to get through 7 13 innings.

“He definitely came right at us,” said shortstop Clint Barmes, who hit an infield popup in his lone at-bat against Wacha. “When you get a good pitcher on the mound and he's attacking the zone like that, it makes it tough to work counts as a hitter.”

Morton kept pace with Wacha for a while and yielded only two hits through the first five innings.

“That was fun,” Morton said. “What wasn't fun was turning around and watching that ball go over the center-field fence.”

In the sixth, Beltran drew a leadoff walk and Holliday homered into the bullpen beyond the center-field wall.

Relying heavily on his sinker and curveball, Morton went 5 23 innings and gave up three hits. He walked four and struck out four.

“He pitched a good game for them,” Beltran said. “He gave them a good chance. He was keeping the ball down and really got us chasing a lot of breaking pitches. He did a good job, but at the same time, Wacha also was doing a great job. An even matchup.”

Alvarez broke up Wacha's no-hit bid with one out in the eighth inning. He belted a 438-foot solo home run that cleared the seats in right-center field.

Alvarez is the first Pirate to hit three homers in a postseason series since Willie Stargell did it in the 1979 World Series. Bob Robertson hit four homers in the 1971 NLCS.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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