David Freese and Matt Adams both hit a two-run homer, helping the Cardinals survive the fifth and deciding game in the NL Division Series to keep their hopes alive for a third World Series crown in eight years.
St. Louis will host the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday in the opening game of the best-of-seven NLCS. The Pirates were unable to extend what was their best season in 21 years despite winning two of the first three games of the series. They produced only two runs in their final 18 innings of the year.
Wainwright, who had 19 victories during the regular season and won the opening game of the series with the Pirates, went the distance while giving up a run on eight hits. He has a 6-0 record over his last seven starts dating to Sept. 7 with three of those wins coming against Pittsburgh.
He walked one, struck out five and was helped out by three double plays. It was his first post-season complete game in six starts. Wainwright was allowed to stay in the game despite giving up two solid singles with two out in the ninth and he promptly ended the contest by striking out Alvarez with his 107th pitch of the evening.
Freese gave St. Louis the lead in the second with his home run after Jon Jay had drawn a walk.
A two-out single by Jay sixth in the brought home Matt Holliday with the Cardinals' third run and Adams smashed his homer in the eighth following a single by Holliday. Jay scored another run later in the eighth on an infield hit by Pete Kozma.
The lone run off Wainwright came in the seventh when Pirates put together three straight two-out base hits, the last of them coming from Pedro Alvarez.
The loss was charged to Gerrit Cole, who allowed just three hits over five innings but gave up the home run to Freese and came up short in his bid to match up with Wainwright.
Los Angeles will be going after its first National League title since 1988, a year in which the Dodgers went on to capture what has been their only World Series title in the last 47 seasons.