ST. LOUIS – Clint Hurdle waited patiently for the double-play ball that never materialized.
When the Pittsburgh Pirates’ manager finally made his slow walk to the mound to take the ball from A.J. Burnett, it was way too late to salvage Game 1 of the N.L. division series against St. Louis.
“Please, put it all on me,” Hurdle said after the Cardinals rode a seven-run third inning and another stingy start from Adam Wainwright to a 9-1 rout Thursday. “We had a rough game. Game 164 was rough.”
Especially for Burnett, who’s had nothing but trouble lately in St. Louis. The key hit was a three-run homer by Carlos Beltran that put the Cardinals ahead.
“It was a grind all the way,” said Burnett, among a half-dozen Pirates with postseason experience. “A few pitches here and there, but I wasn’t able to string many together.
“It was here and there and then off again, way off again.”
The first eight Cardinals batters reached safely in the third, saddling the right-hander with the second-shortest outing of his career.
A sellout crowd roared early and then settled in for an easy victory.
St. Louis’ big rally began with a full-count walk to Wainwright.
“Walking anybody never works out,” Burnett said.
Lance Lynn (15-10) faces Pirates rookie Gerrit Cole (10-7) in Game 2 today.
After a record 20 straight losing seasons, the Pirates are back in the playoffs for the first time since 1992. They entered their first best-of-five division series with plenty of momentum after beating Cincinnati in the wild-card game Tuesday, but Pittsburgh never threatened to rally against Wainwright and finished with only four hits.
Pittsburgh also was sloppy in the field, committing three errors. St. Louis was sharp on defense, with reliever Carlos Martinez turning in the top play by slinging an off-balance throw to first to nip Russell Martin.
Wainwright remained unbeaten in the postseason, going to 3-0 with a 2.27 ERA in 14 games, five of them starts.
E—Byrd (1), Barmes (1), McCutchen (1). LOB—Pittsburgh 3, St. Louis 7. 2B—Holliday (1), Y.Molina (1). HR—P.Alvarez (1), Beltran (1). RBIs—P.Alvarez (1), Beltran 3 (3), Jay (1), Freese 2 (2). S—Wainwright. RLISP—Pittsburgh 1, St. Louis 4. RMU—Descalso. GIDP—Descalso. DP—Pittsburgh 1.
IR-S—J.Gomez 1-0. HBP—Ma.Adams. T—2:57. A—45,693 (43,975).