Baseball-Wacha pitches gem as Cardinals keep season alive


Oct 7 (Reuters) - The visiting St. Louis Cardinals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-1 on Monday behind a brilliant performance from rookie pitcher Michael Wacha to force a decisive fifth game in their National League Division Series.

Wacha, who came within one out of hurling a no-hitter in the regular season finale against the Washington Nationals, did not allow a hit to the Pirates until the eighth inning.

The only hit he yielded was a home run to Pirates slugging third baseman Pedro Alvarez that cut the deficit to 2-1 with one out in the bottom of the eighth. After a walk to Russell Martin, Carlos Martinez came on in relief to end the inning.

Trevor Rosenthal came on to pitch the ninth and issued a two-out walk to Neil Walker before retiring Andrew McCutchen on a pop out to second to close out the victory.

The 22-year-old Wacha struck out nine and walked two batters in his sensational postseason debut.

St. Louis, top seeds in the National League, scored their runs on a two-run homer by Matt Holliday in the sixth inning.

Game Five will be played in St. Louis on Wednesday. (Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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