St. Louis, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - David Freese conjured up his postseason heroics from two years ago and Adam Wainwright went the distance to send the St. Louis Cardinals back to the NLCS for the third straight year.
Freese, the MVP of the 2011 World Series, belted an early two-run homer and Matt Adams added another one late as the Cardinals rolled to a 6-1 victory over Pittsburgh Pirates in a decisive Game 5 of the NLDS.
St. Louis won the last two games of the series on the backs of strong starting pitching. Michael Wacha took a no-hitter into the eighth inning of Monday's tight 2-1 victory, and Wainwright (2-0) followed the rookie's stellar performance with one of his own, scattering eight hits -- all singles -- with a walk and six strikeouts.
The NL Central champs, who are 8-1 in postseason elimination games over the past three years. will have home-field advantage over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS, with Game 1 scheduled for Friday.
The Pirates, looking for their first postseason series win 1979, tabbed rookie Gerrit Cole as their starter rather than Game 1 loser A.J. Burnett. Cole (1-1) threw five solid innings, but was done in by Freese's second-inning homer.